After 24 years, the No. 11 shirt will be vacant at Manchester United next season following the retirement of Ryan Giggs but unlike the No. 7 shirt, there are no clear candidates as to who should become the next No. 11 for the reds.
In this case, it’s up to a player to step up and show he deserves what has become a legendary shirt for the club, thanks to the longevity and success Giggs had but there are very few candidates with the only viable option being Juan Mata. He is a fans’ favourite already and has lots of quality but he decided against taking the number when he moved to the club and it is unlikely to change this summer.
Some fans have said Tom Lawrence should be given the shirt. He may yet break into the United first team on a consistent basis but the youngster has had only one game at the club and has spent most of his senior career on loan at the likes of Yeovil and Carlisle.
If a shirt is intended to signify the talent of its owner, then surely that shirt must be earned through talent and perseverance, not circumstance. For this reason, if the reds want to give the No. 11 to a player, then it would be better to give it to a new signing.
Which senior winger deserves it? Nani will likely leave Old Trafford in the summer while Antonio Valencia crumbled under the pressure of being given the No. 7 shirt. As for Ashley Young, he has turned the concept of legendary shirts on its head after being given the No. 18 which Paul Scholes wore throughout the majority of his career.
Louis Van Gaal will likely strengthen on the wings over the summer with Dutch prodigy Memphis Depay being linked to a move to Old Trafford for a £15m fee. He could be a good fit for the shirt, he’s young and has performed admirably for PSV Eindhoven throughout the season scoring 12 goals and providing seven assists.
When Cristiano Ronaldo first arrived at the club, Sir Alex Fergusom had enough faith to hand him the No. 7 shirt despite Ronaldo having reservations. He eventually grew into one of the best No. 7’s United have ever had.
Shirt numbers aren’t as important as they once used to be but certain ones carry a story and for the player who follows in Giggs’ footsteps, he’ll feel that pressure from day one.