This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Poor old Diogo Dalot. Having arrived from Portuguese giants Porto last summer in a £19m deal, big things were expected of the full-back. So much so that former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho proudly proclaimed the 20-year-old could be a permanent fixture in the side for the next decade.
Fast forward twelve months later, and Dalot is facing down the barrel of having to play second-fiddle to a right-back who is just a year older than him and cost nearly triple the amount he did. Amid all the excitement of Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s arrival at Old Trafford, one man’s future who has been up in the air is Dalot’s.
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Even as a full-back who can play on the both the left and the right, the 20-year-old faces a stiff fight to cement himself in either role following the signing of Wan-Bissaka and the form of Shaw, who won the club’s player of the year award last season.
But Dalot’s attacking qualities and more natural adeptness at going forward may just stand him in good stead – in his debut campaign in English football, Dalot registered 0.9 shots, 1.1 key passes and 0.9 crosses per game, despite being predominantly used as a full-back.
The big question of Wan-Bissaka has been whether he can bring much to the table in an offensive role; compared to the Portuguese star’s aforementioned stats, the England U21 international averaged just 0.3 shots, 0.4 key passes and 0.3 crosses per game – a significantly lower amount.
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In games where United may be expected to dominate, whether at home or away, Dalot’s greater attacking threat could see him get the nod over the £50m Wan-Bissaka.
Indeed, whilst Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has largely stuck with formations that favour a conventional back four, moving to a system with wing-backs could see Dalot really shine. His energy levels and combination play make him an ideal candidate to bomb up and down the flanks and he could give the side a greater balance.
So whilst United’s summer dealings may have seemingly jeopardised Dalot’s place at the club on first glance, the 20-year-old may yet be the man to take the headlines over his big-money counterpart.