Donny van de Beek’s move to Manchester United in early September opened up new midfield possibilities.
United are now spoiled for choice in central areas, with Van de Beek joining Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic in competing for three spots.
It becomes far easier for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to pick four from six, as opposed to three.
This is why a diamond midfield combination may become more viable for United this season, with Van de Beek complementing the team’s existing options.
The one drawback of using a diamond midfield, is that United do not have full-backs with enough attacking quality. Enter Alex Telles.
Telles is an ideal fit
Brazilian full-back Alex Telles has the attacking qualities to make it work.
Telles provided 12 assists in all competitions for Porto last season and had one this past weekend in a 3-1 win with an excellent cross from the left flank.
Telles’ attacking quality gives United an added dimension. While several of his goals for Porto have come via the penalty spot, he still has more open play goals (6) for his side than Luke Shaw does for United (2) in two fewer seasons.
Having a played who can operate up and down the flank so effectively compensates for the lack of width the diamond midfield requires.
On the right side, Aaron Wan-Bissaka is still a work in progress offensively, but his defensive qualities still make him a must-pick over his teammates.
Wan-Bissaka still managed more assists last season (4) than Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams did combined from the left hand side.
In a more regular 4-2-3-1, Telles will be a strong asset too, but he allows United to easier shift to a 4-4-2 and mix up her options.
United played this formation once last season away at Everton, and frequently switched to a 3-5-2 formation, which also would benefit Telles’ attacking qualities.
The club’s deservedly criticised negotiating team still have to pull this deal off.
But The Guardian‘s report Telles is keen on a move is encouraging, with just one year remaining on his Porto contract. It’s a transfer which would make a lot of sense.
Alex Telles: Buccaneering Brazilian
- Alex Telles is an attacking full-back with an impressive goal contribution.
In 95 games for Porto he has 30 assists and 20 goals. 14 of these strikes have been penalties.
- He has been an overlooked talent at international level
Telles has only one international cap, earned last year. As he has an Italian passport, he did not require a work permit.
- Telles has experience and he is a proven winner
For Porto, Telles has won two league titles and one Portuguese cup. He also won the Turkish Super Lig and two Turkish Cups playing for Galatasaray.
- Solskjaer switch to diamond offers Van de Beek hope
- Willy Kambwala makes impressive academy debut
- United will be impacted by Everton’s double suspension
- Manchester United loanee Levitt substituted off at half-time in Charlton win
- Manchester United now have an unpredictable approach which Solskjaer must master
- Manchester United tested switching Elanga’s position with encouraging results
- Bruno Fernandes at top of Premier League creative rankings
- Three players Manchester United should leave out of XI v RB Leipzig
- Brandon Williams looks like he may have switched to right-back