As it stands, Aaron Wan-Bissaka would be a popular choice to be named Manchester United’s player of the season so far.
Watching Wan-Bissaka’s performances this season, you would think this was an internationally established full-back with 50 caps to his name, not a youngster of just 22-years-old.
United bet big on Wan-Bissaka, paying £50 million to Crystal Palace, and it looks money well spent.
Time and time again he has shut down opponents, and in Raheem Sterling’s case, on multiple occasions.
There will be renewed competition from a fully fit Diogo Dalot, but Wan-Bissaka has done enough to be the assumed automatic number one choice at this stage. Expect him to start a minimum of seven of the nine Premier League games.
Defensively elite, attacking work in progress
Wan-Bissaka was a key part of United’s strong defensive performances in the lead up to the break.
He led the team with an average of 3.8 tackles per game, and two interceptions per game, plus 0.5 shots blocked per match.
Expect him to continue where he left off, and he will be expected to help shut down Heung-Min Son against Tottenham as he did in United’s win at Old Trafford against them.
Where Wan-Bissaka needs to kick on, is in an attacking sense, and he recognises this.
Defensively he contributes 0.8 key passes per game. This is the same as Luke Shaw, another full-back who needs to kick on, while Brandon Williams is at 0.9. Wan-Bissaka should be looking to double this, as a target next season.
His curling cross for Anthony Martial’s headed goal at Stamford Bridge was an illustration that he is getting there.
These past few months will have provided a little bit of extra time for Wan-Bissaka to focus on improvements he can make.
Despite the three months off, there has only been limited time on the training ground, so we would not anticipate an overnight transformation.
Wan-Bissaka has to get the balance right. He won’t want to be too adventurous upfield and sacrifice what makes him so good defensively, instead he will look to just tweak his approach.
Wan-Bissaka is already scarily good, irrespective of his age. At just 22, it is exciting that we have a player of his quality, who is only likely to get even better.
These next nine league games are a real opportunity for him to sign off his first season at United with a flourish, and offer more of a glimpse of his attacking qualities.
We want to see more. And if he can show us extra reason to be encouraged by his progress over the final stretch, it will increase our faith that United will have one of the best all-round full-backs of this era, rather than just a defensively elite one.
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