Diogo Dalot is riding the crest of a wave right now, in the best form of his career to date. He has nailed down a regular spot in Manchester United’s first team and is part of a new-look mean defence.

Dalot has also been kicking on at international duty too, scoring two goals in a 4-0 win over Czech Republic at the weekend.

With his contract expiring in 2023 (United have an option to extend to 2024) there is reported to be a clamour of interest in his services, the MEN report with both Juventus and AC Milan monitoring his situation. Dalot’s priority is to re-sign with United.

The 23-year-old has come a long way in the past 12 months. Today is exactly one year since possibly his lowest point in a Manchester United shirt.

Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Dalot’s worst United moment

12 months ago Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reluctantly called on Diogo Dalot to start a Champions League game. He was forced to do so after Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card in a farcical defeat to Young Boys.

Dalot was picked to start against Villarreal, a great opportunity for him to make a statement. It did not go at all well for him.

The right-back was given a torrid time all night by Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma, and this led to the Spanish side’s opening goal, with Dalot twisted out of position.

A match report from FotMob wrote: “This was hardly a convincing audition for regular game time. Danjuma terrorised the Portugal international.”

United came back to win the game 2-1 thanks to a late goal from Cristiano Ronaldo. But while the team were winners on the night, Dalot was one of the losers after a disappointing display.

Dalot went straight back to the bench and he was not selected to start another match under Solskjaer until the manager’s sacking in November, despite some poor form from Wan-Bissaka.

The poor defending shown by Dalot on the night gave credence to the belief that he simply wasn’t good enough for United, and a real reluctance from the manager to give him another chance.

Michael Carrick and then Ralf Rangnick brought him back into the team, and Dalot ended the season as a regular, with plenty to work on.

He has reached a new level under Erik ten Hag already, and is currently showing why Jose Mourinho was so buoyant in his ability when he signed him in 2018.

What Dalot’s turnaround shows

Dalot’s turnaround is vindication for Jose Mourinho, who told BBC Sport: “In his age group, he is the best full-back in Europe.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer comes out of this less well. He preferred Timothy Fosu-Mensah to Dalot, leaving him out of the squads in 2020 after lockdown and the defender had to spend a year on loan at AC Milan.

Dalot is the real winner, demonstrating mental resilience to push through this spell and come out stronger the other side.

The Villarreal game is a lesson not to judge a player on one performance, especially when they not had a consistent run in the team to improve.

We are seeing the best out of Dalot now for two reasons, one is the superior management of Erik ten Hag. The second is simply a consequence of playing consistently, he has been able to improve.

This has blighted Donny van de Beek, who comes in for odd games, gets judged accordingly, and is unable to build up any momentum. More competition in midfield than at right-back makes it extra tougher for the Dutchman.

Dalot has done well to seize his opportunity, eventually, and while he can’t be complacent, he can he delighted with how the past year has gone, after a match against Villarreal which could easily have signalled the end of his spell at Old Trafford.

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