One of life’s finest luxuries is a footballer wearing the correct number for their position.
We’ve got no time for strikers wearing no.2 or centre-backs wearing the no.10 shirt unless it’s for sentimental reasoning.
But what’s the correct number for each position? That depends on the country and formation but here in England, where 4-4-2 is king, a correct 1 to 11 should look like this…
We understand that in Brazil centre-backs wear no.3 and no.4 rather than no.5 and no.6 and that in many countries the no.6 is reserved for a central midfielder.
But we had to stick to what we know. So now we’ve got the formalities out the way, let’s get down to business.
Apologies in advance to any Cristiano Ronaldo fans. We’ve explained our decision-making process below.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Man United)
Seeing off competition from fellow no.1 wearers Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon and Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the granite wristed De Gea.
The hispter’s choice of Ederson was ruled out due to the Brazilian wearing no.31 while Thibaut Courtois and Jan Oblak both wear no.13.
Simple enough to start with.
Right-back: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
Carvajal’s biggest threat to a place in our world XI came in the shape of Man City’s Kyle Walker.
In the end Carvajal’s more rounded end product won out, while Fabinho’s move from right-back to one of Europe’s leading defensive midfielders with Monaco meant he wasn’t considered.
Joshua Kimmich- arguably the most complete right-back in Europe- spoiled all his good work by wearing the no.32 which we can only presume is an ode to Carlos Tevez.
Left-back: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)
The no.3 is a staple for any well meaning left-back yet Marcelo insists on wearing the no.12, Jordi Alba wears no.18, David Alaba wears no.27 and Arthur Masuaku wears no.26.
So that leaves Filipe Luis, Danny Rose and Alonso.
We went with Alonso, mainly because of his haircut but partially because of his wand of a left foot.
Centre-back: Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich)
Now we come to the no.5, usually reserved for an uncompromising central defender.
Raphael Varane, Jan Vertonghen, John Stones and Marquinhos were all considered but it’s Hummels who gets the nod.
To call him uncompromising would be doing the man a disservice. You don’t get nicknamed the ‘German Jonathan Woodgate’ unless you’re a bit special.
Centre-back: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
Continental Europe’s obsession with giving midfielders the no.6 means we didn’t have much to go on here.
It came down to a north London shootout between Koscielny and Spurs’ Davinson Sanchez.
Koscielny’s ability to defend in the face of adversity- mainly having to play alongside Rob Holding and Per Mertesacker- got him a spot in our XI.
Right-mid: Raheem Sterling (Man City)
Had Cristiano Ronaldo stuck with the no.9 shirt he first wore at Real Madrid then he’d be straight into the striker’s spot in our side.
But he hasn’t played as a right midfielder for years, so he’s out of contention. *puts on tin hat*
The same goes for fellow no.7s Antoine Griezmann and Alexis Sanchez- both nominally forwards- meaning the right flank is free for a rejuvenated Sterling.
Left-mid: Douglas Costa (Juventus)
Consistency is key so, either due to a lack of form or not playing left-wing, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Mesut Ozil, Anthony Martial, Ousmane Dembele and Mohamed Salah all miss out.
That leaves Costa, who’s lined up on the left for Juventus this season wearing the no.11.
We would have gone with Salah but he tends to play on the right of a front three. Sorry Mo.
Centre-mid: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)
Kroos could pass a Mandarin test without studying. His passing ability is that good.
He’s by far and away the best no.8 wearing centre-mid in world football, although Andres Iniesta- a beautiful footballer in his own right- deserves a mention.
Jorginho, Javi Martinez, Naby Keita and Ilkay Gundogan are four other talented midfielders keeping the no.8 flame alive.
Centre-mid: Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
Another number/position combination which has been watered down in recent years.
Fabregas’ main rival for a spot in our side was Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic.
But the Spainiard’s ability to land the ball on a peanut couldn’t be overlooked.
Forward: Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
There’s no shortage of competition when it comes to no.9s playing up front this season.
Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani, Mauro Icardi, Gonzalo Higuain, Radamel Falcao, Roberto Firmino and, to a lesser extent, Karim Benzema can all feel unlucky to have been overlooked.
But we didn’t want to deal with the aggro of not picking Suarez. Plus, he’s a pretty tidy footballer.
Forward: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
No number holds as much mystique as the no.10.
Unfortunately for Neymar, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Paulo Dybala a man called Messi exists.
All bow down to the GOAT.
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