Erik ten Hag has helped Diogo Dalot take his game to the next level and the Portuguese international is currently enjoying a stellar season in a Manchester United shirt. However, Aaron Wan-Bissaka doesn’t seem to be in the Dutchman’s plans with multiple reports claiming the club want to part ways with the right-back, who joined United in 2019 for a fee in the region of £50m.
Once United find a way to move Wan-Bissaka on, it’s expected the club will sign a right-back who can challenge Dalot for a place in the starting line-up. The Reds have been linked to the likes of Jeremie Frimpong, Denzel Dumfries and most recently Malo Gusto.
Date of Birth: 19/05/2003 (19)
Strong Foot: Right
Height: 1,79m (5ft 10in)
Who is Malo Gusto?Embed from Getty Images
Gusto is a 19 year-old right-back currently plying his trade in France at Olympique Lyon. Despite only being 19, the Frenchman has established himself as Lyon’s first choice right-back having started 14 out of 15 Ligue 1 games so far this season.
Due to his impressive performances in a Lyon shirt, Gusto has been linked to a number of Europe’s top clubs including Manchester United. According to Florian Plettenberg, The Red Devils rate Gusto very highly and he is one of several right-backs United are looking at. Should United secure the services of the right-back, it would likely be in the summer with bosses having estimated a price tag of €30m-€40m. Plettenberg also reports that Bayer Leverkusen’s Frimpomg is an option for United, along with Inter’s Dumfries.
Gusto has shown many promising signs so far in his short career and many feel he will go on to become one of the best full-backs in the world. Similarly to Frimpong, Gusto is a fantastic ball progressor, whether that be through carrying it forward on his own or making passes to help his team advance up the pitch and the stats show this.
Over the last year, he’s averaged 4.21 passes into the final third per 90 as well as 1.85 passes into the penalty box per 90, which ranks him amongst the best in his position. From a technical point of view, Gusto is fantastic. He’s an impressive dribbler and his ball control is another strength to his game. His passing is also of a high standard. He’s completed 85% of his passes in Ligue 1 this season and he also has good passing range.
To play in Erik the Hag’s system, players need to be good on the ball and that’s one of the big reasons as to why Wan-Bissaka has fallen out of favour. However, Gusto is technically outstanding and would suit the type of football Ten Hag wants the Old Trafford crowd to see.
From an attacking point of view, Gusto poses a big threat to opposition teams. In the last year, he’s averaged 1.25 key passes per 90 as well as 2.47 shot-creating actions per 90. Over the last two Ligue 1 seasons, he’s created 10 big chances and registered 5 assists and while there is room for improvement there, he has all the attributes needed to become a world-class attacking full-back.
From a defensive point of view, Gusto is very solid. He’s a fantastic tackler and is also good at making interceptions. The Lyon right-back has also won 56% of his ground duels in Ligue 1 this season which is also respectable. In 1v1 situations, the youngster has shown promising signs and his pace helps him recover in instances where the attacker gets past him. In addition to that, he’s also a hard worker and a good presser. The 19-year-old’s strength and work rate would help him in dealing with the physicality and intensity of the Premier League.
WeaknessesEmbed from Getty Images
As good as Gusto is, there are a few areas in his game he needs to improve. So far this season in Ligue 1, he’s only won 32% of his aerial duels which is quite poor. He also doesn’t score many goals. He’s made 53 appearances for Lyon’s first team but is yet to score. He is fast, skilful, creative and his crossing ability is good so whether or not he’s scoring, he certainly helps his team in attack. However, if he could start scoring goals now and then, it would add another dimension to his game.
Where would Malo Gusto fit in?
If United were to secure the services of Gusto, he’d give Dalot competition for his spot in the starting line-up. At only 19, he’d be a big part of Ten Hag’s long-term plans and he’s almost certainly going to become one of the world’s best full-backs. While there are a few things he needs to work on, he’s very solid defensively and has brilliant attacking qualities.
Gusto and Dalot together would be fantastic right-back options to have for the next decade. While Dalot’s approaching the end of his current contract at Old Trafford, Fabrizio Romano reports that Manchester United will push ahead with efforts to agree a new long term deal with the Portuguese international and a meeting with his agents is expected after the World Cup. Dalot’s current contract at United expires in June 2023 but the Reds have the option to extend it for a further year.
VerdictEmbed from Getty Images
Gusto has to be Manchester United’s first choice in their hunt for a new right-back. Dumfries and Frimpong both have their own qualities but Gusto’s ceiling is very high and he has everything needed to become a complete modern-day full-back. With reports claiming he’d cost between €30m and €40m, it would be a very wise investment by the club. There’s likely to be competition for Gusto so United will need to move fast to secure the Frenchman’s signature.
The only concern with Gusto is that he’d reportedly be a summer signing. The issue is United need a new reliable right-back in January if they want to compete for top 4. Dalot’s been fantastic this season but he can’t keep playing as often as he was before the World Cup as that will almost certainly lead to fatigue and potentially injuries.
Frimpong’s price tag is reportedly in the region of €25m and he could be an attractive option for Ten Hag and United in January. However, if Gusto is the right-back Ten Hag decides he wants the most, United could recall Ethan Laird from his loan spell at QPR to be Dalot’s backup for the rest of the season and then make a move to sign Gusto in the summer when he’s available