Manchester United have had some of the best right-backs to have played the game. However, prior to Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s arrival, it was seen as a problem position.
For too long, modified wingers were asked to do the job, with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young dividing opinion despite their considerable experience.
Of the two, Valencia was the better option. But the Ecuadorian’s fine form slipped as his Old Trafford exit drew closer.
United had a few problem positions in the post-Ferguson era, but few were as obvious as right-back. Yet now, it could be argued the club have more quality options there than at any time in their history.
Wan-Bissaka is the obvious first-choice and, at 22, he is only scratching the surface of his ability. And there is a whole host of players waiting for their chance to step in if required.
Diogo Dalot was signed as United’s right-back for the next decade. But the Portuguese is now scrapping for minutes.
Dalot is a fine young talent with more attacking flair than Wan-Bissaka. However, the latter’s defensive ability is second to none and his work in the final third is improving.
Brandon Williams may have burst on to the scene at left-back. But the United teenager is equally adept on the opposite flank and he has featured there twice to date.
While they are the current first-team options, there are plenty of United youngsters with the skills to step up.
An abundance of talent
Ethan Laird is now featuring in first-team training and the 18-year-old is tipped for big things at United.
If things go well, Laird could move ahead of Dalot, such has been the Portuguese player’s decline.
Forgotten man Timothy Fosu-Mensah will also be hoping to make up for lost time. The Dutch player was expected to be a United regular by now. But a series of injuries and disappointing loan spells have curtailed his proogress.
Now back in contention, the 22-year-old will be hoping to add to his 21 United appearances. Considering his versatility, it will be interesting to see if he ultimately excels at right-back, centre-back or as a holding midfielder.
The next generation
A lesser known player is Lukasz Bejger. The 18-year-old Polish prospect can play anywhere across the back line but has featured mostly at right-back this season.
Bejger has played every minute there as part of United’s impressive FA Youth Cup team and he has 21 U18 appearances to date.
Then there is Harvey Neville, the son of Phil Neville, who recently signed a new contract at United. He has a long way to go to overcome the likes of Laird and Bejger but time will tell if he can follow in his father’s footsteps.
Finally, and perhaps most excitingly for the long term, is Marc Jurado. As reported by the Manchester Evening News, the 16-year-old is expected to join United’s academy this summer following his exit from Barcelona.
Jurado had been at the Spanish giants for almost a decade and he is regarded as one of the country’s hottest teenage prospects.
While he is still very young, the fact that United are reportedly giving him a three-year contract speaks volumes. By the end of that deal, it is hoped he is pushing for a first-team spot.
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