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Could Antonio Valencia be forced to give up the shirt?

Antonio Valencia was handed the 'dream' number 7 shirt last summer by Manchester United. How long will it last?

Antonio Valencia was Manchester United's star performer last season, if they had triumphed in their quest for their 20th Premier League title it would have been largely down to him.

It was the continuation of solid form since arriving at the club, and he was rewarded with the number 7 shirt at the club.

The shirt is iconic at United, worn previously by Eric Cantona, George Best, David Beckham, and... Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo inevitably scored the winning goal at Old Trafford in midweek, and there has been much discussion as to whether it will be the last goal he scores at the stadium.

Ronaldo's future at Madrid is still unclear as to his refusal to sign a new contract. It expires in 2015 and he is strongly rumoured to favour a return to Manchester.

His positive reception in midweek will have enhanced those longing feelings, and given Jose Mourinho's uncertain future at Madrid, Ronaldo may well feeling he too is reaching a crossroads.

United would have to come up with a large sum of money to bring back a player described by Guillem Balague as the 'best in the world' in midweek, with a minimum of £55 million suggested based on the two years remaining on his contract, ability, and age.

Which begs the question, if United did manage to bring back Ronaldo, would Antonio Valencia be forced to give up his shirt?

Surely the answer is yes. Ronaldo has worn the shirt at both United and Madrid and due to his high profile he would surely demand it. With complicated image rights built into player's contracts and Ronaldo's CR7 'brand', Valencia would be asked to politely step aside.

All players have ego's, but Valencia is one who appears is level-headed, and would probably understand given Ronaldo's global status.

But every player wants to be the best and he would also have a tinge of regret that so far this season at least, he has not produced the superb performances of last season, which would have made it so much more difficult to ask him to simply 'move aside'.

If United get Ronaldo back should Valencia give up his shirt?

image: © vagueonthehow

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