Phil Jones 'refused to give up squad number' for Raphael Varane
Fair play Phil, stand your ground
Raphael Varane was unveiled in front of a packed out Old Trafford ahead of their 5-1 win over rivals Leeds United on Saturday afternoon.
The French defender joins from Real Madrid for a fee of just £41 million, as United look to build on their second place finish and challenge local rivals Manchester City for the league title.
Varane revealed his number 19 shirt in front of the Old Trafford crowd, which may have surprised a few shirt number purists, who expected him to wear a more traditional number for a centre-back.
As reported by Manchester Evening News, Varane wanted the number 4, which he wears for France, currently taken by Phil Jones, who last played for United in January 2020.
But Jones is reported to have refused to sacrifice his number, and with Harry Maguire and Paul Pogba occupying numbers 5 and 6, Varane was left with no option but to take the 19 shirt, recently vacated by Amad Diallo ahead of an expected loan move.
Jones was given the number 4 when he joined from Blackburn Rovers in 2011, but has fallen down the pecking order to fifth choice behind Maguire, Victor Lindelof, new arrival Varane and Eric Bailly. He would probably be sixth if Axel Tuanzebe had not been loaned out to Aston Villa.
Since permanent shirt numbers were introduced in 1993, only six players have worn it for Man United: Steve Bruce, David May, Juan Sebastian Veron, Gabriel Heinze, Owen Hargreaves and of course, Jones.
But not being given his preferred number didn't appear to have dampened Varane's mood, as he wore a beaming smile from ear to ear while walking across the Old Trafford pitch.
What a moment at Old Trafford as Varane meets the fans for the first time 🤩 pic.twitter.com/ob7hEJMl38
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) August 14, 2021