One year ago Manchester United’s pursuit of Aaron Wan-Bissaka came to an end, with the right-back signing a five-year deal at Old Trafford.
It says a lot about how much this season has been delayed, that a year ago the Wan-Bissaka transfer had dragged on for a month as United managed to knock Crystal Palace down from an initial £65 million asking price to £50 million.
After one season at the club which is still incomplete, it is clear the signing of Wan-Bissaka has been a big success.
To assess this, you first have to recall what the right-back situation was like a year ago; our biggest weakness.
As hard as Ashley Young tried, he was exposed at right-back as United’s weak point. Diogo Dalot could not even dislodge him from the team, which told it’s own story about his disappointing stint at the club so far.
So it was clear that United needed a right-back, and Wan-Bissaka was a standout candidate after a particularly strong season in the Premier League for Crystal Palace.
The Times reported that Wan-Bissaka was one of 804 right-backs identified by United’s recruitment team, which was whittled down to 60, and then 10, with the youngster standing out as first choice.
From everything we have seen so far, it has been a tremendous decision, and the £50 million looks like money well spent.
Wan-Bissaka has turned the right-back position from United’s weakness, into a strength.
This season he averages 3.7 tackles per game and 1.9 interceptions. He is a nightmare for opponents to try and get past.
Over the past year he has shut down players like Raheem Sterling on multiple occasions, and at times opponents have actively tried to attack United’s left side, because Wan-Bissaka has them locked down on the right.
Wan-Bissaka has been praised by his own teammate Luke Shaw as the best one v one defender in world football [Goal] and he is still just 22-years-old.
The one criticism which has been pointed at him is over his attacking traits. Some of this is unfair.
In his last six starts he has two assists, having made just one prior to this all season. He is showing improvement.
His performance against Sheffield United was really encouraging. He looked fluid and dangerous when he went forward, full of confidence after setting up a goal for Anthony Martial.
To put in context, his three assists this season is the same number which attacking midfielder James Maddison has managed for Leicester.
There is so much more to come from Wan-Bissaka, and his future may even lie away from right-back. It is possible he ends up developing into a centre-back in the future as part of a back three. He has all the tools.
After one year, it is clear already that United bought well. £50 million was a club record fee to be spent on a full-back. It could end up looking like a bargain.
United have not always got it right in the transfer market. With Wan-Bissaka, the club got it spot on.
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