Manchester United do not have a natural right-winger so who should play there?

Manchester United’s current squad is so imbalanced that there is not one player in there who could reasonably be called a natural right-winger.
That is why Jose Mourinho was so keen on Ivan Perisic in 2017, but failed to land the Croatian with a reported £40m bid.
So who is the best current option? We’ve taken a look at the choices before coming up with our verdict…

The Options

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Many might have expected Mourinho to have turfed out Juan Mata by now but the likable Spaniard remains at Old Trafford under the man who sold him back in 2014.
Jesse Lingard came through as a wideman but shone at the World Cup as a deeper midfielder. Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial can all play wide but prefer the left.
Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young were wingers but those days are surely gone now, with both players in their 30s. Romelu Lukaku even sporadically played on the right under Roberto Martinez, for both Everton and Belgium.

The Debate

(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

It is not entirely clear why Mourinho views Mata as a right-winger; he demands physicality and speed from his wideman and gets neither from the Spaniard. He is clearly a number 10, but hasn’t played there in years for United.
It would be more understandable for Lingard to play there, given his pace. But Mourinho likes him as a disciplined attacking midfielder; there is even a case for moving him into Paul Pogba’s position.
For some reason, Rashford looks like a fish out of water on the right, and Martial has never looked great there. Sanchez was fielded there against Valencia and is perhaps more adaptable. The Chilean’s famous work ethic has been absent in recent weeks, but the role could suit him.

Valencia and Young are not long-term solutions at all; Young’s case to be moved forward is perhaps stronger but neither man is a serious option. ‘Doing a Martinez’ and putting Lukaku wide with Sanchez through the middle is only a one-off choice.

The Verdict

The two best options are Sanchez and Lingard. Sanchez should probably get the nod because it would free up the left for youngsters Rashford and Martial; they are the future after all.
Lingard was initially pigeonholed as a winger because he is young, English and quick; but he is actually a playmaker. Perisic would have been an expensive, ageing right-wing option and that’s exactly what Sanchez is now.
He’s the best fit. But he needs to drastically improve.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.