Down The Wings

Manchester United Fan Blog

Diogo Dalot: Where has it gone wrong for ‘Europe’s best young right back’?

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Diogo Dalot has been at United now for 2 years after signing for the Reds under Jose Mourinho in the summer of 2018. He signed for Manchester United for a fee of around £19 million on a five-year deal for the club, when at the time his name had never really been heard on British soil. Mourinho claimed the right back could be at United for over a decade and touted him as the best talent of his age group in Europe. However, things haven’t quite gone to plan so far for Dalot in a red shirt. He’s failed to make a solid and consistent impact in the team and is yet to cement his place in the first team.

Dalot was born in Braga and joined Porto’s youth system in 2008, aged 9. He came through the system that has produced some of the biggest talents in the world with names such as James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and Hulk. He made his professional debut for Porto B team in January 2017 at the age of 17. It took him less than 10 months to be promoted to Porto’s first team in the October of the same year.

It wasn’t long before he was being picked up on the radars of Europe’s elites, but to the public his name was still relatively unheard of. It wasn’t until rumours started circulating around the Manchester United fan base that Mourinho had hand picked a Portuguese youngster to sign for the reds. Only a year and a half after making his professional debut and only 8 appearances, he had signed for one of the biggest clubs in the world in the June of 2018. In his first interview with MUTV he stated he was extremely excited to play in a red shirt.

So fast forward to 2020, where has it gone wrong for Dalot?

He made his debut for United in a Champions League game against Swiss side Young Boys and scored his first goal in a 6-0 win against Tranmere earlier on this year. He was also the key figure in the famous night in Paris as he put in a stellar performance higher up the pitch, giving the PSG defence something else to worry about during the counter attacks that night. He was also the man who won the penalty that Marcus Rashford put away in the dying embers of that match. It seems to have been that in the handful of games he has played further forward for United that he has actually put in better performances. As previously mentioned, his first game came against Tranmere at Prenton Park, in which he also played higher up the pitch. Although he has not provided a large attacking output, his better performaces for the team have come from this right wing position. Dalot even said himself in his first interview with MUFC, “I prefer to play at right-back, but if I need to play in any position, I will play, no problem.”

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The sacking of Jose Mourinho may also have stunted the development of the Portugese youngster at United for multiple reasons, that being the signing of Aaron Wan Bissaka and the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer. Even though the PSG game was under the management of Ole, Dalot has rarely featured in the starting 11 under the Norwegian, and when he has its been in throw away cup matches. This is down to the signing and the form of the young English star Aaron Wan Bissaka since the summer when they signed him from Crystal Palace. The full back has rarely had a bad game for United, pocketing world class talents such as Raheem Sterling on numerous occasions. The form of the star has led to him becoming virtually un droppable, and therefore prevented Dalot from getting anywhere near the team. Unfortunately, he has played understudy to the English man for the majority of the season.

Diogo Dalot is still a young prospect at the age of 21 years old (the same age as Trent Alexander Arnold and Mason Mount to mention a few), so he still has a lot of years ahead of him. However Wan Bissaka is only a year older (22) so the likelihood of him getting game time in the near future is at a minimum.

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Perhaps he would benefit from a loan spell to a club abroad to find his best position whether that’s further forward in a winger position or where he is now at full back. Game time will also allow him to develop his trade and maybe rival Wan Bissaka for his place in the first team, after all competition improves performances.

If Dalot wants to live up to the claim that Mourinho made, which is rarely a throw away comment by the Portuguese manager, he can’t be satisfied sat on the bench and playing second fiddle to the Englishman. He may not be Ole’s first choice right now, but he’s got to prove to that manager that he is good enough to be in the team and if that means going elsewhere to get experience that maybe his best career option.

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