News From Manchester: 11 Manchester United players deserve a squad number upgrade this summer – Daniel Murphy

The appointment of Erik ten Hag brings with it the hope of a new era after United endured their worst campaign in the Premier League era, finishing on just 58 points. The new manager will need several recruits to stamp his ideals onto the side as well as to offset the losses from the expected clearout.

United have a potential exodus on their hands this summer as Nemanja Matic and the now-retired Lee Grant have both confirmed their departures, while Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard are all set to follow them out of the door when their contracts expire. Juan Mata could also leave on a free though a decision has not yet been confirmed.

Additionally, Dean Henderson is closing in on a move to Newcastle United, Aaron Wan-Bissaka is free to leave and the futures of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and even Cristiano Ronaldo remain up in there. United could see over 10 players leave the club this summer which would result in plenty of squad numbers becoming available again.

Owing to United's bloated squad, there have been few options available for new signings when they go to choose their shirt number, with many being left unsatisfied after being unable to get their favourite or being stranded on a high number. With the season now over, designated squad numbers can now be changed again and several players deserve, and could well receive, an upgrade before the next campaign begins.

The player hoping for one the most may well be Bruno Fernandes. The United talisman has been No.18 since he joined the club in 2020 but his favourite number is No.8. Should Mata call time on his eight-year stay at Old Trafford, then there is no doubt that Fernandes will be first in line to claim the number that he has tattooed on his forearm.

Raphael Varane may also be looking to get down into the single digits. The centre-back took No.19 upon his arrival, with Amad moving to No.16, which he wore in his first season at Real Madrid. However, just like he did at the Bernabeu, when a better option became available he took it. The No.2 and No.5 he went on to wear in Spain also are unlikely to be free, but the No.6 will be once Pogba leaves and the numbers 3 and 4 may also become vacant so he could have plenty to choose from.

Another signing from last summer, Jadon Sancho, also had to compromise with the high number of 25 as the No.7 was taken by Cavani. Obviously, that didn't stop Ronaldo from taking it after returning to the club as the Premier League gave special dispensation to swap despite the league being underway. The winger may look to upgrade, potentially to the more prestigious No.9 or No.14.

Though he has previously explained that he likes the No.39, Scott McTominay may be due a new jersey and Donny van de Beek may make a case for the No.6 he wore at Ajax if he is to come into Ten Hag's plans. Though the No.34 he wears is in honour of former teammate Abdelhak Nouri.

Another player who may look to move from the 30s is Anthony Elanga. The young forward enjoyed a breakout season and became a key part of Ralf Rangnick's side with the No.36 on his back. After impressing, he may hope his newfound place on the side is reflected with a lower number.

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