Manchester United defender Diogo Dalot is in line to start in the Champions League for the club for the first time since 2019.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is suspended for the upcoming clash with Villarreal, presenting Dalot with an opportunity to show what he can do.
It’s an important game for Dalot. These type of chances don’t come around too often.
The last time he started at right-back in the Champions League for Manchester United, Jose Mourinho was the manager. His most recent start under Solskjaer was in the defeat to Barcelona in which he played at left wing-back.
It is games like this which can define his United career. Is he an asset, or is right-back a position where United need better depth?
Champions League opportunity
There’s no question that the Barcelona game was a bigger fixture for United, a Champions League quarter-final – but there was no pressure on Dalot, playing out of position in a game very few fancied United to win.
This time around it is different. United are expected to beat Villarreal, even if many have their doubts over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
Dalot will be playing in his favoured position, and this is his fourth season at the club since joining. Not his first. United expect an accomplished performance from a player who is no longer a teenager, but a senior Portugal international.
United paid £19 million to sign Dalot in 2018. Even at a low cost, it’s unclear to say whether he has been good value. A strong performance against Villarreal can tip the balance on that view.
Dalot made an impact in the Champions League in 2019 when his shot won a decisive penalty against PSG. That contribution was a false dawn where United were concerned, and for Dalot too. He was unable to kick on.
This week he has a chance to lay down a more substantial marker.
Put in a strong defensive and attacking performance here in an important United victory, and we can begin a conversation as to whether he deserves more regular Premier League playing time.
At the moment Dalot is just a back-up to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, but he wants to be more than that.
The midweek clash finally gives him a proper opportunity to stake his claim and show Ole Gunnar Solskjaer what he is capable of in a high pressure scenario.
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