Cristiano Ronaldo, Homecoming.

Many tried to walk in his shoes at Manchester United, but how they fared? As CR7 returns home, we take a look at his successors and predecessors.

He is back, 12 years after leaving the club for a record transfer fee Cristiano Ronaldo is set to make his 2nd debut for the club sooner than anyone expected after spending his peak careers at Real Madrid, Juventus and breaking innumerable records. 

Cristiano’s departure from Man Utd in 2009 was expected but his arrival this year took everyone by surprise. Who anticipated he would change clubs at the start of this year? We didn’t, :D.

CR at United became synonymous with the number 7 jersey and became CR7 as we know him now. He did justice to the iconic number 7 shirt at the club. No one since then has become the true heir to the iconic number at the club. Many came, many tried and felt the weight to be too heavy and eventually left. 

Former Liverpool player Michael Owen, in the twilight of his career, was handed the number to the shock of some United loyalists. His highlight? Only scoring a 96th-minute winner in his first Manchester Derby, that’s it. End of the story for him.

Having won United’s Player of the Year award in 2011-12, Antonio Valencia was then handed the prestigious No.7 shirt. But the pressure seemed to weigh him down and the winger struggled to find his best form in 2012-13, scoring one goal in 30 Premier League appearances. He decided to vacate the shirt in 2013 and found a new lease of life after reverting back to his old No.25. 

When a superstar like Angel Di Maria couldn't do justice to the No. 7 Jersey of Manchester United, everyone was convinced that the weight is simply too heavy for any superstar to wear the coveted jersey. Then came the time of another young exciting winger, who showcased great goal scoring ability from the wings and exceptional technique to manipulate football, so much so he left defenders flat as he raced and scored top bins. Memphis Depay, the Dutch Dynamo was the latest player to don the No. 7 Jersey. 

Sadly for Manchester United fans, despite all the talent and finesse that Depay possessed, he just couldn’t live up to his initial high standards and the curse of No. 7 Jersey struck again. Memphis Depay featured in 53 matches in the two-year time span he spent in the Manchester United Shirt and just managed 7 goals in that time. In 2017, he was sold to Lyon in France and the No. 7 jersey at Manchester United was vacant again.

One of the best players Arsenal have ever had was Alexis Sanchez, he decided to move to Manchester United in January of 2018 with immense fanfare and who can forget that piano play from Alexis? Well, that was his finest moment in a United shirt. There were not many instances where he was happy wearing the Man Utd jersey and sought his departure a year after he made his debut. 

Even in the twilight of his career, Edison Cavani was a huge name to put on the Manchester United jersey. He started slow, making appearances from the bench, but whenever he came on the pitch, his class was pretty evident. Cavani’s interpretation of space and willingness to help out his colleagues in games is phenomenal. When compared to the previous No. 7 at Manchester United, Cavani was a different type of player, being an out and out Striker but he did improve Manchester United’s attacking fluidity multiple folds. Out of all the failed attempts to find the best number 7 at the club, at the end of it all, it was the Uruguayan who did justice to the number at his back with his all-round display, but there is another twist. With Cristiano’s arrival, the circle is complete, we are back where it all first started.

CR7, probably one of the greatest players of our generation, has now come back to where he started. The player who made the No. 7 Jersey of Manchester United his own, is now back where it all started and the excitement of his arrival has a biblical sense to it and even if you are a Manchester United fan or not, CR7 coming back to the premier league has all of us very excited. 

He has now completed a full circle of his trophy-laden career by coming back to a club that gave him so much, and to make them champions one last time before he finally rests as the greatest of all times.