With Erik ten Hag seemingly intent on bringing a new right-back to Manchester United this summer, it appeared that the Premier League giants were hurtling towards a dilemma. 

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot joined, at Old Trafford, by a new face. Most likely Jeremie Frimpong. To paraphrase Nick Grindell in 1932’s The Western Code; ‘This town ain’t big enough for three high-level right-backs’.

If Manchester United had attempted to sign Bayer Leverkusen’s former City and Celtic starlet Frimpong in January, rather than June, Ten Hag’s decision probably would have been an easy one. Dalot stays, Wan-Bissaka goes.

Since the turn of the year, however, Wan-Bissaka has been the most improved member of the United squad. Rediscovering the defensive instincts that once made him arguably the Premier League’s finest one-v-one defender. Furthermore, Wan Bissaka continues to adapt expertly to Ten Hag’s detailed tactical set-up.

With Dalot’s form taking a dip after the Qatar World Cup, it was suddenly his future coming under question as United step up their pursuit of Frimpong; a player Ten Hag personally likes (Manchester Evening News).

Manchester United v Newcastle United - Carabao Cup Final
Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

What next for Diogo Dalot at Manchester United?

Author of 17 goal contributions in 2022/23 alone; Fabrizio Romano reports that Leverkusen’s Flying Dutchman is keen on a return to Manchester. But perhaps there is a way Manchester United can keep both Wan-Bissaka and Dalot. All the while, adding the jet-heeled Frimpong to their ranks. 

The concerns were understandable when it emerged that Dalot would be playing in an unfamiliar left-back role during Sunday’s trip to Nottingham Forest; both Tyrell Malacia and Luke Shaw unavailable. Those concerns, however, were quickly, and emphatically, dispelled.

Not only did Dalot score his first ever Premier League goal while drifting in onto his favoured right boot, the Portugal international looked more comfortable than a sloth in a hammock in the sort of inverted role Pep Guardiola popularised at Bayern Munich and Man City; helping overload the midfield while putting his extensive tactical nous to very good use.

Dalot was not so much a left-back as an auxiliary midfielder at the City Ground. Roving around the pitch while creating overloads in the centre.

Frimpong may have been viewed initially as direct competition for Dalot and Wan-Bissaka. And while that may be true of the latter – a more attacking alternative to the tough-tackling ‘AWB’ – perhaps Dalot’s future at Old Trafford has him becoming something of a modern-day answer to John O’Shea, for instance.

A player who’s balance and flexibility allows him to fill in when required in a variety of positions.

There will always be place in Ten Hag’s team for a ‘utility man’. If Dalot can prove his fine performance in Nottingham was not just a one off, that may be a role he could fill.

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