What number will Mbappe wear at Madrid? French hitman in a dilemma

After years and years of speculation and a transfer saga that seemed to go on forever, Kylian Mbappe is now officially a Real Madrid player, with the number nine set to be his.

But the French attacker, who is hell-bent on exceeding even Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the definitive greatest player of this century to date, is faced with a big decision to make, and that is which number he wants to cement his legacy with.

What number will Mbappe wear at Madrid? The number nine
Will Mbappe follow in Cristiano Ronaldo's footsteps? – Photo by Icon Sport

What number will Mbappe wear at Madrid?

Mbappe is spoilt for choice, but it's likely to boil down to two great Real Madrid shirt dynasties, both of which will have the electric forward scratching his head.

Number seven

The most obvious number the World Cup winner would pine for is the number seven.

Firstly, Mbappe wore the seven shirt for PSG from the start of 2018/19 right up until his club finale back in May. He likely has some attachment to the iconic number, having performed to a superb individual level since donning it.

Secondly, it would allow the 25-year-old to follow in the footsteps of another iconic Real Madrid attacker. That man is none other than Ronaldo, whose prowess with seven on the back of his Blancos shirt even earned him the social media tag ‘CR7'.

Mbappe grew up idolising Ronaldo, not only for his talent but his prodigious work rate and flawless physique. There is even a famous old photo of a 14-year-old Mbappe sitting on his childhood bed, with posters of the Portuguese legend adorning the wall.

Mbappe bears some similarities to a younger Ronaldo in his playstyle and would surely love the chance to follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately for the French speedster, there is a sizable roadblock to this ambition: Vinicius Junior.

Real Madrid already have a hero in the seven shirt… – Photo by Icon Sport

An interesting twist of fate is that Ronaldo also wore the number nine when he first moved to the Bernabeu, with the great Raul occupying the famous jersey when he arrived in 2009.

The Brazilian left-winger is already a massive and well-established star in Los Blancos’ considerable constellation, having been in the top two contributors of goals and assists for his side in each of the last three seasons.

Mbappe is a big character, but has evidently decided not to try and wrestle the famous shirt off Vinicius for the time being.

But a lot can change quickly, and Mbappe could well get the seven shirt in the future as Ronaldo did, if Vinicius Junior were to move on at some point.

Mbappe would surely love to emulate Karim Benzema's Champions League success – Photo by Icon sport – Photo by Icon Sport

Number nine

However, things could work out a little differently, and Mbappe might stick with the number nine for the long haul. If he does that to a trophy-laden effect, he will join the lineage of great Real Madrid number nines.

In particular, it would allow Mbappe to continue the legacy of another French Galactico, Karim Benzema.

Mbappe and Benzema are, of course, no strangers at international level, and both linked up very effectively on and off the pitch at Euro 2020.

If Mbappe thrives as a central striker, scoring plenty of goals as expected, he also may develop an affection for the number nine jersey.

And as much as Mbappe has had success at PSG wearing the number seven, his incredible performances for France have come wearing a different number altogether, the number ten.

Even that isn't out of bounds, though the sporting culture of Mbappe's new climate holds the number 10 in high regard as the one reserved for leading playmakers and magicians.

Hugo Sanchez was a goal machine, and Mbappe could easily dislodge him from the list of Real Madrid's greatest number nines – Photo by Icon Sport

Best Real Madrid number 9 players

5. Ivan Zamorano

Kicking off our list is legendary Chilean striker, Ivan Zamorano.

Between 1992 and 1996, Zamorano wore the number nine with distinction, scoring 101 goals in 173 appearances, following a move from Sevilla.

The Real Madrid side Zamorano played in struggled to match the dominance of Johan Cruyff’s dazzling Barcelona side, but the Chilean still won La Liga and several domestic cups in his time at the Bernabeu.

Despite Zamorano’s prodigious goalscoring, there is a strong argument to be made that Mbappe has already surpassed him, having scored almost as many goals at just 25, and a far more glittering trophy cabinet.

4. Ronaldo

Kylian Mbappe is somehow spoiled for choice for great Ronaldos to pay homage to at the Bernabeu.

As well as Cristiano, the 25-year-old can take inspiration from the inimitable, ‘original’ Ronaldo Nazario.

The Brazilian icon, in truth, probably played his best football at Barcelona and for his nation, with injuries having taken their toll on his body by the time he arrived in Madrid in 2002.

But Ronaldo was still very, very good at Real, scoring 104 goals in 177 appearances and providing iconic performances such as his Champions League hat-trick against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo is rightly remembered as one of the greatest to have ever played the game, and his spell in Madrid helped cement that reputation.

3. Hugo Sanchez

Ronaldo may be one of the greatest strikers of all time, but on performances for Los Blancos alone, legendary striker Hugo Sanchez surpasses him.

Sanchez, despite being relatively short for a number nine, was a ridiculous athlete, capable of springing up to astonishing heights to score headers, and was a master of the overhead kick.

The Mexican scored 208 goals in 283 appearances between 1985 and 1991, winning five La Liga titles in a row.

If Mbappe could achieve a similar feat as Sanchez, his time at Real would be considered an astounding success.

2. Karim Benzema

Narrowly missing the top spot is Karim Benzema.

Across 13 seasons in white, Benzema scored 354 goals and assisted a further 138.But what made Benzema special was his teamwork. During the ‘BBC’ era, the Frenchman sacrificed his own scoring instincts to facilitate his teammates.

Benzema’s trophy cabinet is truly staggering too. With Los Merengues, he won five La Ligas, four Copa del Reys, and most amazingly, five Champions Leagues.

Mbappe is desperate to win the Champions League, and will take notes from his compatriot’s performances.

Ferenc Puskas was one of the greatest strikers ever – Photo by Icon Sport

1. Ferenc Puskas

Atop our list, it could only be Ferenc Puskas. Arguably the greatest goalscorer ever, Puskas arrived at the Bernabeu aged 31 from Hungarian football several kilos overweight and was heavily criticised in the press.

The criticism didn’t last long. Puskas scored 242 goals in 262 appearances, and scored so many stunners that FIFA’s award for the best goal of the year is even named after him.

Puskas ultimately won five La Liga titles and enjoyed three European Cup triumphs.

Mbappe will have his work cut out to match Puskas’ legacy, but the Frenchman will have every faith in himself, as will an adoring set of new fans who rightly demand only the very best.

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.