In recent weeks, Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has given Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka opportunities at right-back for the Reds
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s time at Manchester United appeared to be coming to an end in the first half of the season, with him having played just a handful of minutes this season. However, after regaining form in recent months, the right-back now appears to have a future at Old Trafford.
With Wan-Bissaka out, Diogo Dalot was forced to play as the Reds’ first-choice right-back. The Portuguese star has had a productive season thus far, but a hamstring injury earlier in the season has slowed his progress slightly. Nonetheless, the 24-year-old has been
Erik ten Hag has recently changed his defense due to the form of the two defenders. Because Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane are both injured, Luke Shaw has been manning the center of the backline alongside Victor Lindelof. His move to the middle was supposed to benefit Tyrell Malacia, but it has also allowed Wan-Bissaka and Dalot to play together.
The pair started last week’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham, as well as the FA Cup semi-final win over Brighton, the defeat at Sevilla, and the win over Nottingham Forest. They had both played in the previous four matches prior to the 1-0 victory over Aston Villa at the weekend.
Dalot can play on the left but, like Wan-Bissaka, is more effective on the right. The former was given the start against Unai Emery’s side on Sunday, and it was arguably one of his best performances in recent months. Ten Hag will either stick with a winning team for the game against Brighton on Thursday night, or rest certain players after a hard-fought victory at the weekend, given that both he and Malacia played the full 90 minutes.
It’s a selection problem that United’s manager didn’t have earlier in the season. Previously, Dalot was expected to start, while Wan-Bissaka was unlikely to play. But now things are different.
While both have recently performed well, Ten Hag is still looking for a new right-back, as United could sell up to three full-backs this summer. MEN Sport reported last month that the Reds had held talks with the representatives of Bayer Leverkusen defender Jeremie Frimpong.
Wan-Bissaka’s form has been good, but it is also worth noting that he was made available for transfer last year, only for United to receive no concrete offers. Given how well he has played in the second half of the season, that has almost certainly changed, but the Reds could still choose to cash in on the 25-year-old. Meanwhile, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, and AC Milan have expressed interest in Dalot, who is out of contract next year.
Ten Hag’s top priority for the summer transfer window is to sign a new striker, with Tottenham talisman Harry Kane the preferred target. The Dutchman is also interested in bringing in a younger midfielder, and the club is expected to look for a centre-back if Victor Lindelof or Harry Maguire leave Old Trafford.
United have tentatively planned to sell Harry Maguire, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, and Brandon Williams, and if Dalot, or more likely Wan-Bissaka, leaves, the club will need to strengthen. As things stand, it’s not a priority position, but that could change quickly if the Reds lose players. The fact that they are keeping a close eye on Frimpong demonstrates that Ten Hag is still looking to expand his ranks in
The United manager has previously admitted that United right-backs Dalot and Wan-Bissaka are in “really close competition.” It’s unclear who will start against Brighton on Thursday night, or if both will play. Regardless, the opportunity to fight is something Ten Hag did not have in the early stages of the campaign. It is, however, something he is making the most of as the season comes to a close.