Manchester United are continuing their remarkable resurgence under Erik ten Hag having seen off rivals Manchester City at the weekend, with that result once again seeing the Red Devils’ defence come to the fore.
That clash – in which United restricted Pep Guardiola’s side to just a solitary shot on target – illustrated the defensive solidity that has been the hallmark of the Old Trafford outfit in recent months, having conceded just two goals in seven games in all competitions since returning to action in late December.
Despite making great strides since the early season horror shows against both Brentford and City, Ten Hag could well be looking to further bolster his backline even further, with right-back seemingly a priority position this month.
With Aaron Wan-Bissaka having been heavily tipped for an exit of late, albeit while starting the last four Premier League games, there may well be a need to provide further competition or even a direct rival to regular starter, Diogo Dalot, by bringing in a fresh face in the coming weeks.
According to Football Insider, the top-flight giants have seemingly joined the race to sign Real Valladolid sensation, Ivan Fresneda, with the “remarkably complete” teenager – as described by LaLiga expert Matt Clark – currently attracting interest from clubs across Europe.
The report suggests that the 18-year-old starlet could cost as little as £8.8m due to a release clause in his existing deal, albeit with previous reports having claimed that fee could be as high as €30m (£26m).
Either way, such a signing could well represent something of a bargain for those at the Theatre of Dreams, with big things expected of a player who has already been described as a “very special talent” by ESPNUK’s David Cartlidge.
While the promising Spaniard does only have 13 senior appearances under his belt to date, it has proven a particularly impressive start to the current campaign, with the former Real Madrid youth asset averaging 3.2 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game from his 9 league outings – with Dalot, by comparison, averaging 1.9 and 1.5 for those two metrics, respectively.
That quality was particularly evident in the recent defeat to Los Blancos, with Fresneda having “shut down” Brazilian magician Vinicius Jr on the night, as per the aforementioned Clark, having remarkably won ten ground duels in total, including eight tackles.
Clearly a player not overawed by the big occasion despite his youth, the 6 ft menace also compares favourably to his European peers, as he ranks in the top 1% for tackles made and the top 8% for interceptions.
Not only a player who is “strong in the tackle“, as per the aforementioned Clark, the highly-coveted full-back also offers real quality and maturity in possession, having been further lauded by Cartlidge for that trait last week:
“Thing that’s stood out for me watching Fresneda coming through is ability in small spaces and when put under pressure. Composed and weaves his way out of trouble expertly. Technically gifted and has a physique you’d not associate with Spanish full-backs/wide players.”
That all points to a player who could well thrive under Ten Hag’s tutelage, with United likely craving a solution to what has at times been something of a problem position in the recent past on the right side of the defence.