Diogo Dalot wants to stay at Manchester United for many years and sees this season as a learning curve

Manchester United defender Diogo Dalot has stated in an interview that he believes that he has an opportunity to spend many, many years at the Theatre of Dreams. Dalot, 19 was signed by former United manager, Jose Mourinho during the last summer transfer window. Mourinho thought that he was the best fullback of his time in Europe, which suggests that if he puts in the effort and continues to work hard, could be something he achieves at United in the future.

Dalot has played 11 times for United this season, eight of those coming in the Premier League alone. When he signed for United, he was recovering from a knee injury and he has been hit with injuries at the club this season, which has been unfortunate for him. Dalot was recently interviewed by Sky Sports and opened up about his time at United so far, going into detail about how this season is a learning curve for him so early in his professional career. Speaking to Sky Sports, Dalot said;

“It’s a massive learning curve. I think the first part of the season was tough because I had injuries, and I only started playing and training with full fitness from December on. This year was a learning year for me, and I will keep learning more until the end of the season. [I’ve learned] more mentally to be ready for this kind of situation, to get an injury, to not play, to start getting fit again.

“For me, to learn that was a big achievement, and I think I am doing pretty well. I’m enjoying it. I came to this club and knew it would be difficult for me, I have good players in my position and I can learn a lot from them. I think I can have the opportunity to play many, many years here.”

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Mourinho was sacked in December 2018 and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given a caretaker role at the club, which could result in him becoming the permanent manager after a great start with United only losing one match in the last 15, which was a 2-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 stage. Dalot has played four times under Solskjaer. Dalot stated that the biggest change at the club, under the Norwegian, was the atmosphere in the dressing room.

Under Mourinho, things were not great with the football becoming boring, the results were getting worse and players were not enjoying themselves and were clearly not putting the effort in, which is not something I agree with them doing. However, we were seeing things from the outside, for them, playing under Mourinho must have been terrible, considering the way they are playing and being treated now. Continuing his comments about United, Dalot said:

“The biggest difference was the atmosphere we had inside the locker room. I think the tactical parts too, the game we are playing, we play more to the forward part, so I think we changed a couple [of] things and hopefully, we can still change a little bit more because we are not perfect.

“It wasn’t wrong, but I think when you change coach there is something which changes for itself, it’s not something about the coach, something [you think]: ‘We changed the manager, OK, now we need to change ourselves, too.’ I think we changed for better when we get the results we’ve got.”

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During his reign at United, Mourinho stated that Dalot could become a player that could be compared to club legend Gary Neville, which was a compliment for Dalot. Neville, now working for Sky Sports and a co-owner of Salford City football club, played for 19 years at the Old Trafford club, winning eight Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, three FA Community Shields, two UEFA Champions League trophies, one Intercontinental Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup.

Dalot will have felt good after hearing Mourinho’s praise but at United, he wants to achieve his own thing at the Theatre of Dreams, which is understandable. It will be good for him to be compared to legends of the past but every player will want to do their own thing, not live in the shadows of someone else. Personally, I don’t like it when people compare players to someone else. For years we have heard about the next Lionel Messi. The fact is that there is only one and nobody else has come close to his talents in a similar way.

“[The comparison] brings responsibility, but I wouldn’t accept it if I couldn’t be at the top, and for me, it’s a pleasure being compared to those types of players. They are words of Mourinho, I need to build my own history here and that’s to always keep improving, and hopefully I can be here for many years to play for United.”

Whilst playing for United this season, Dalot has excited many in that there is now another proper fullback at the club with Luke Shaw. United have become reliant on the likes of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young, who are converted wingers playing as fullbacks, which has seen them put in some good performances, the latter the better of the two. Dalot though has done well so early in his career, especially with crosses, with 33% of them accurately meeting a teammate. Having Dalot, the future at United could be interesting.

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