Diogo Dalot quickly proved his quality for Manchester United against Young Boys following his £19million transfer (BBC). However, Antonio Valencia was back in the starting XI the following weekend.
After the 19-year-old’s impressive debut, the United captain would have been hoping for a solid performance of his own. Yet Valencia’s outing against Wolverhampton Wanderers was shaky at best, leading to questions over his regular starter status.
Valencia has been one of United’s most consistent performers, and talk of his demise is premature. However, the 33-year-old is suddenly facing something different – a genuine threat to his starting spot.
United have relied on Valencia for years but Dalot is the real deal. As Jose Mourinho said, the youngster could be the right-back at Old Trafford for the next decade, and that does not bode well for the current skipper.
Dalot is a confirmed starter for United’s EFL Cup clash with Derby County this week, and another dominant display could be bad news for Valencia.
While Mourinho is right to use Dalot sparingly, as he recovers from injury, he looked just fine against Young Boys.
If he shines against Derby, United fans will start clamouring for his first league start and, from there, the sky is the limit.
Valencia was poor on Saturday. His delivery has been questionable for a while and he is no longer the buccaneering wide-man he once was. In contrast, Dalot is a modern full-back with pace to burn and confidence in abundance.
It is early days, but if the United youngster impresses again this week, the time may have come for a change. Valencia can still play a role, but his days as a regular starter could soon be over.