Friday, March 5, 2021

A Back-up to Wan-Bissaka Should be the Priority for Manchester United

With only a week left for the January transfer window to shut down, speculations about transfers are bound to intensify. There is no running from the fact that Manchester United are looking to sign another right-back who can play as a cover to Aaron Wan-Bissaka. 

The former Crystal Palace right-back has been a sensational signing for Manchester United. He joined the Red Devils in 2019 and has featured in 71 games out of the possible 91. This itself speaks volumes about how pivotal he is to the team.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the player who made the most tackles (129) last season. After 19 matchdays this season, he is again at the top of that chart with 55 tackles. He has featured in 17 games, scoring and assisting a goal each.

He is one of the best one-on-one defenders in the world and the best right-back in the Premier League when assessed by their defensive capabilities. It is quite astonishing that the player with the most tackles is yet to be cautioned even once by the referee after 17 games.

Growing competition bringing out the best:

Wan-Bissaka back-up option

Competition for the same spot within a squad boosts performance. In a competitive atmosphere, you are aware that if you don’t perform well, there is always the other guy who can be drafted in your place. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been a bold manager when it comes to bench players who are out of form, no matter at what price they have been bought for.

For example, Paul Pogba was signed by Manchester United with the hope that he will be their talisman. But, Pogba failed to perform consistently which forced the board to get another attacking midfielder in the form of Bruno Fernandes. 

Solskjaer dropped Pogba to the bench many times this season. This might have angered the Frenchman who has channelized all his energy to get back to his best. From the past two months, Paul Pogba has been unstoppable. Single-handedly, he has helped United to gain six points by scoring two match-winning goals in space of seven days. He is dominating the midfield and playing with aggression and maturity not seen in the last four years.

Luke Shaw started the season slowly which forced Solskjaer to step into the transfer market for a new left-back. Since the arrival of Alex Telles from FC Porto, Shaw has been magnificent. He is willing to drive forward and put crosses into the box. 

At the same time, he has made sure of doing his defensive duties well by building a robust defence line. The English left-back himself admitted that Alex Telles’ arrival to United has forced him to perform to his best in every game. Even though Aaron Wan-Bissaka has hardly had an off-game, a backup right-back will help him get more rest.

What are the alternatives to Wan-Bissaka?

Manchester United already has three alternatives in their squad; Brandon Williams, Diogo Dalot, and Ethan Laird. Williams is still with the team whereas the other two are on their loan spells with AC Milan and MK Dons respectively. 

Williams featured in more than 30 games last season but all of those were on the left flank. Even though he is a right-footer, Solskjaer has played him as a right-back only in a handful of games. Diogo Dalat has failed to prove himself as a robust right-back when he was Old Trafford. He is a sound performer when going forward but defensively, he has huge question marks. 

Solskjaer needs to trust one of these three young lads to do the job or else he should venture into the transfer market. They don’t need to splash a big amount but just find an experienced right-back who can tighten up the defence in the absence of Wan-Bissaka.


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