This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
After seeing the big-money arrival of Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace earlier this summer, Diogo Dalot could have been forgiven if he wondered where he stood in the Manchester United pecking order.
The 20-year-old had himself only arrived at Old Trafford the year before, but imparted a fine early impression on his former boss Jose Mourinho after making two successive Premier League starts last December.
“Everybody knows that he has fantastic potential. I don’t want to compare, especially not the number of titles but he is probably the same age as Gary Neville when he came into the first team. Probably he can follow Neville in this dynamic of more than 10 years as United’s right-back, with amazing conditions to improve.”
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After the turn of the year however, Dalot made just twelve more league starts. So the signing of Wan-Bissaka would no doubt have raised some doubts about where his long-term future lay, but in an impressive showing against FC Astana in the Europa League on Thursday night, he has given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer some welcome food for thought.
Coming up against a side that were more than happy to just sit back and defend the width of their penalty area, Dalot’s attacking responsibility grew ten-fold. The Portuguese man had to really step his game up going forward, and provide attacking support for his teammates.
And boy did he do that. As per Whoscored, the 20-year-old registered two shots on goal from his full-back position, whilst his remarkable nine crosses was only bettered by Angel Gomes’ ten. The United prospect’s previous experience of playing as a winger helped him out tremendously against Astana, allowing him to complete three successful dribbles over the course of the game. Such were his skills, United fans took to Twitter to clamour for him to be given a chance further forward.
Diogo dalot should given the opportunity to be our right winger..chong still very raw, need got to loaned out. Gomes way better than perreira..rojo, curious case of him. Rarely plays, but already produce more decent crosses than young and shaw. Rashford isn’t natural no 9.
— Alexander HR (@AlexanderHR_14) September 20, 2019
— Hemant Dixit (@hvdixit7) September 19, 2019
— OscarFigure™ (@OscarFigure) September 19, 2019
So perhaps it isn’t a case of Wan-Bissaka or Dalot. Solskjaer now has the conundrum of potentially playing the two together on the right-flank. It gives the Norwegian an extra attacking option from a player who may not have even been given a proper look-in this season.