Manchester United have two academy players who would be perfect for Conte's wing-back system

Antonio Conte is still a lead contender to take the Manchester United job if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is fired.

The Guardian list Conte as the frontrunner – although for now United are prepared to continue with Solskjaer.

Conte taking over would likely mean a change in formation. The Italian is adaptable, but likes to play with three at the back.

He utilised a 3-5-2 at Inter while playing more of a 3-4-3 at Chelsea. What we do know, is he will need wing-backs.

For United’s current personnel, this could be somewhat problematic.


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Who can play at wing-back for United?

Alex Telles would and could be the ideal option for Conte on the left. The Brazilian is an attack minded player, who United are still to see the best of, because he has not been selected on a regular basis.

Telles actually made his debut in a 3-5-2 away at PSG, with Luke Shaw playing as one of the three centre-backs. This could be a way forward for United under Conte.

On the right is more of a problem. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will not ever be suited to playing as a wing-back. He would likely have to convert to become one of the defensive three.

Diogo Dalot would get a shot. Conte has seen him first hand playing for AC Milan, although there are doubts over how good he actually is.

The most likely option is that Conte would look to buy a player for the role, although don’t rule out him trying to convert Jadon Sancho to fit, if he plays a 3-4-3 system.

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United have two future wing-backs

Manchester United have two players in the academy who are perfectly suited to the wing-back role.

Ethan Laird is currently starring at Championship level for Swansea City playing at right-wing back.

He has already made his United debut and the youngster is a strong dribbler and good crosser. He could be ideal for the role from next season.

On the left United can have faith in former Real Madrid academy talent Alvaro Fernandez.

Fernandez has five assists at academy level already this season and two goals. He is arguably better suited to wing-back than left-back, where his defensive talents still need polishing.

Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Does Conte play youth?

A fair question to ask is whether Antonio Conte is willing to put his trust in young players. He did not do so at Chelsea.

Having some faith in the academy should be a prerequisite of any United boss, but lets not pretend Solskjaer has gone overboard in this area either.

Last season at Inter, Conte gave 10 appearances to young striker Andrea Pinamonti, and selected young defender Alessandro Bastoni 45 times.

Conte is not closed minded, and if either Fernandez or Laird can impress him, they may have a shot as they have the skillset to become key players for the role integral to his set up.

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