This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
After enjoying a meteoric rise over the course of the past year or so, the fact Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s name is in the England conversation is a testament to how much he has grown in such a relatively short space of time.
Since bursting onto the scene with Crystal Palace, the 21-year-old made his high-profile move to Manchester United earlier in the summer, and he has quickly established himself as a mainstay of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. Barring two Premier League games he missed courtesy of an injury, he has played in every other game in the top-flight.
Such were his impressive early impressions, he was called up by Gareth Southgate for the England squad in late August. And speaking about the decision to select him for the EURO 2020 qualifiers, the Three Lions boss remarked he had done well in his early weeks at United.
“We tracked him very closely last year and we thought he had an outstanding year but we wanted him to stay with the under-21 group. He’s adapted really well and very quickly to a high profile move and playing in front of 70,000 fans brings an intensity and a pressure so we’re really looking at him and Trent (Alexander-Arnold).”
But in this latest round of international fixtures, Southgate has opted against calling Wan-Bissaka up. In response, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted that Wan-Bissaka’s time would come eventually, and he could perhaps embrace the decision to further get acclimatised to life at Old Trafford.
“I remember when I wasn’t picked for Norway the first time, because there were loads of rumours about me being picked, and I thought it ‘thanks’, because ‘I’m just getting used to the Norwegian top league now’. I think Aaron is going to get his time in the national team soon enough.”
However, the key issue that could potentially be a death knock to the right-back’s chances of forging a successful England career is his key weakness in contributing going forward. The 21-year-old has averaged a measly 0.2 shots and 0.3 crosses per game in the Premier League this season, which when compared to Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold’s numbers of 1.3 shots and 2.6 crosses per game, really shines a light on his offensive struggles.
Indeed, speaking on BT Sport (as quoted by The Express), Owen Hargreaves pinpointed how Wan-Bissaka must improve on his attacking game. He said: “He’s a really good player but he’s got to add that. He got three (assists) last season, hasn’t got any this season. I love him but here (at United) they use the full-backs, they get up the pitch and get goals and assists. He can improve on that.”
With Alexander-Arnold only 21 himself, and really showing the way of being a modern full-back, Wan-Bissaka desperately needs to revamp the key element of his game that is currently missing, or else risk seeing his England hopes go up in smoke.