Rumours over the last two days have linked Diogo Dalot with an exit from Manchester United. Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham are said to be keen on the right-back, report O Jogo and The Sun.

Just yet, there isn’t a decision to be made, with no bids received. Both reports state United are looking for as much as £35 million for the youngster.

This would be good business for a player who has made just one Premier League start this season due to a combination of injury, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s importance.

What United can’t do, is leave the team short, by letting Wan-Bissaka’s best back-up depart when a typical season will involve 60 plus games in all competitions.

This is where youngster Ethan Laird comes in. His task is to prove he can be a better back-up than Dalot.

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Great talent

Laird is a very good young player, and observers who watch the academy regularly believe he could be even better than this year’s breakthrough first team star Brandon Williams.

This season saw Laird make his first team debut in the Europa League, which shows how highly he is regarded at just 18. He hasn’t had any chances in 2020 though since Dalot returned from injury.

This season and last, Laird’s season has been hampered by injury. Last season he missed several months, and this past season he has had two separate spells on the sidelines.

This has been due to bad luck, but some players find themselves more injury prone than others.

 

Just ask Diogo Dalot, who has not been available for the start of both of his seasons at Old Trafford so far.

Laird’s first job is to convince the coaching staff he can be relied upon, and that he is more dependable than Dalot. So far, both are injury prone, so the jury is out.

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Has he taken the leap forward?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision over Diogo Dalot will be guided by how far forward he considers Laird to be in his development.

After this unexpected break, will he have used the opportunity to come back stronger and fitter than ever?

Like Dalot, Laird is an attacking full-back and offers something a little different to Wan-Bissaka. There should be space for two of them long-term, but perhaps not three.

Dalot seems like the most likely fall guy, but for now United should be in no rush to get rid of him if Laird is considered to be not quite ready.

United may elect to send Laird out on a loan move this coming season, and keep Dalot for one more year.

Dalot can’t really have a worse season than the one he has just had, in which he started just one Premier League game. If he even marginally improves on this, the interest should still be there in 2021, and United can bring Laird through then.

If United are really impressed by the steps Laird has been taking in recent weeks and over the coming months, a decision could be made to accelerate his path to first team football and take advantage of interest in Dalot.

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