Football used to be a simple game. Before the days of false nines and number 10s, before shirt sponsors and squad numbers, teams used to trot out in a simple 4-4-2 formation with numbers 1-11 stitched on their back.
That digit defined your position. A number 4 was seen as the tough-tackling midfielder, like Nobby Stiles, numbers 9 and 10 played up front and 7 and 11 were the wingers.
These days players get attached to a squad number: David Beckham made 23 famous at Real Madrid and beyond, Thierry Henry was always 14 at club level and 12 for France.
But how would this year’s Premier League sides line up if those old-school traditions made a comeback? Perhaps some of them would need a rethink:
A centre-back partnership of Pablo Zabaleta and Fernando isn’t the tallest for the Citizens
We doubt this strikeforce will be seen too often for the Eagles this term
This is the only way Rafael, Luke Shaw and Adnan Januzaj can get into a Man United XI
We know Stoke have been making some funky signings this summer, but handing Glen Johnson number 8 is too zany by half!
If new sub goalie Darren Randolph plays as many Premier League minutes this season as his shirt number we’d be surprised
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