Manchester United’s right wing selection this season has been all over the place. So could Italian youngster Federico Chiesa finally become the man to make that position his own?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side currently looks bereft of creativity and goalscoring threat, but it doesn’t help that the right winger position has been left unoccupied on several occasions during matches.
Andreas Pereira has been the man recently deployed wide right, but he isn’t an out-and-out winger, he naturally wants to get on the ball and ends up drifting off the touchline searching for possession.
For opposing teams this makes their job easier being able to defend narrower, especially with United currently struggling to breakdown compact defences. However, having wingers hugging the touchline, with the ability and desire to run at defenders, with an end product, would give this current United side a completely different dimension, threat and outlet.
So what would Chiesa bring to the Red Devils?
Fiorentina’s star man has had an explosive start to the new season, in the seven games he has played in all competitions, Chiesa has already amassed two goals and four assists.
Chiesa made 41 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring 12 goals.
The 21-year-old is being used in a slightly different role this season, Chiesa has benefitted from the signing of Frank Ribery, the influential pair are being used as strikers in a 3-5-2 formation.
Fiorentina’s forwards ran AC Milan ragged in a 3-1 win at the Giuseppe Meazza, Chiesa was at the heart of everything, he won a penalty, missed a penalty, and set up Ribery in a game, which highlighted the burgeoning partnership between the youngster and 36-year-old Frenchman.
So far this season in Serie A, Chiesa is averaging 5.2 shots per game, 1.7 key passes and 2.5 dribbles.
In the summer European Under-21 Championships, Chiesa had an impressive return of three goals in three games, which included two goals against eventual champions Spain.
He also conjured up attacking numbers in the tournament that should make Solskjaer sit up and take notice of the talent he possesses, Chiesa averaged 4.7 shots per game, 2 key passes, 3.3 dribbles and he was getting fouled nearly 3 times a game (2.7).
Fits Solskjaer’s philosophy
Solskjaer is looking to build his team around young, ambitious and talented players, Chiesa has all those traits in abundance.
After a reported summer move to either Juventus and Liverpool didn’t materialise, United’s need for a natural right-winger should mean the signing of Chiesa has to be made a priority.
The Norwegian has built a side that is tailor made to hit teams on the counter-attack, Chiesa’s role in La Viola’s second goal away to Atalanta, would have impressed Solskjaer.
Chiesa chased down a lost cause, forced a defender into a mistake and then showcased his pace to get away from his man and deliver a pin point cross to Ribery who slotted home.
Chiesa’s first thought once collecting possession, is how can he hurt the opposition, his driving mazy runs and quick feet would make full-backs reluctant to dive in and therefore stand off, giving the Italian the opportunity to deliver one of his wicked crosses/cutbacks.
What about Sancho?
It is clear that Jadon Sancho is United’s number one target for the right-wing position, but the way United’s season is unravelling, it could prove difficult to convince Sancho that Manchester United would be the best destination for him. Especially with every major European powerhouse chasing Sancho’s signature, once he decides the time is right to leave Borussia Dortmund.
This maybe being extremely positive, but what if United’s season dramatically turns around and we reproduce the run of form that convinced the club’s hierarchy that Solskjaer was the man for the job when he was placed in temporary charge?
England’s prized asset could then think that the lure of Old Trafford is just impossible to turn down, could there be a place for Chiesa and Sancho in the United side?
As Pep Guardiola has shown, healthy competition and having two world class players in each position means that you can rotate the team at will and keep the squad fresh and hungry.
More likely it is a case of either or with Chiesa or Sancho. Price would make both deals difficult. The Guardian report Chiesa has a £70 million release clause in his contract.
Chiesa has already shown this season that he has the versatility to play up front, maybe Solskjaer needs to get his scouts out to Florence and see first hand the quality the 21-year-old would add to this United side, which is crying out for inspiration. With or without Sancho, Chiesa is a talent that fits the United attacking ethos.
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