Manchester United formally welcomed Daniel James to Old Trafford this week after the speedy Wales international completed an £18m switch from Swansea.
James put pen to paper on a five-year deal to 2024, with the option to extend for a further year, and looked genuinely delighted to have signed for the 20-time English champions, describing it as 'one of the best days of my life' and an 'incredibly proud moment'.
I’m very proud to join the biggest football club in the world. This is a new and exciting chapter in my life and I can’t wait to get started. Thank you to everyone who has shown faith in me. Hard work starts now! 🔴⚪⚫ @ManUtd #MUFC pic.twitter.com/SRHdNpvLLI— Daniel James (@Daniel_James_97) June 12, 2019
The club and fans alike will hope that delight and pride will translate itself into determination and hard work when pre-season begins in barely a fortnight's time. Lord knows United need hungry players to erase the memories of what became a shambolic 2018/19 campaign.
James will link up with his new teammates when the squad reports for pre-season and will be on the plane to Australia in early July as United begin their preparations in earnest.
But one question that is always a popular one among supporters remains unanswered.
What shirt number will James be wearing for United?
There are a handful of existing options and one or two others that could become available if certain players leave the club ahead of the start of next season - at this point it is perhaps pertinent to highlight that squad numbers are not locked in until the Premier League deadline in August, meaning James could wear one shirt in pre-season and still later change it.
James wore 20 for Swansea and also donned it for Wales on international duty this week, but that number is currently occupied at United by rising star Diogo Dalot.
As things stand, the available shirts at United are 5, 19, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and other higher numbers. The number five isn't particularly plausible given James' position on the pitch, while fans will hope to see saved for a new centre-back.
The 19 shirt has been empty since Marcus Rashford swapped it for 10 last summer, while 21 and 25 are free as a result of the departures of Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia respectively.
Other numbers in the high twenties or low thirties, aside from Nemanja Matic's 31, are all viable.
It depends where James sees himself in the first team picture. Typically, the lower the number the more established a player is, unless they have an personal link with a particular shirt.
United's number seven shirt could yet become available this summer if Alexis Sanchez is to leave the club - to where exactly remains unclear - although this may bring too much pressure too soon on a young man already carrying the weight of an expectant fan base.
A viral statistic once again did the rounds on social media this week, highlighting that since Cristiano Ronaldo left Old Trafford in 2009, players wearing the United number seven shirt have scored just 15 Premier League goals between them - a shocking average of 1.5 per season.
Other shirts that could become available if existing players leave are 8 (Juan Mata has been offered a new contract but hasn't yet signed), 16 (Marcos Rojo is arguably the club's fifth or even sixth choice centre-back) and 17 (Fred has been linked with Roma this week).
Source : 90min