Manchester United’s full-back options would take the average fan more than two minutes to write down because it is unclear who is a fullback and who will remain at the club. Guillermo Varela is yet to make a major appearance for United since Philippe Coutinho famously made a joke of him in the Europa League quarterfinal, but one place where he hasn’t lost the attention of viewers is at Eintracht Frankfurt, where he is reportedly wanted on loan.
Varela made four appearances in the Premier League and three in the Europa League last season, looking more than at home barring the one incident with Coutinho. Many United fans have judged him for that error, but it isn’t abnormal when defending against players like Coutinho, especially ones without experience. It seems an incident that is best forgotten once, because what should be remembered is Varela’s solidity in defence, pace moving forward and ridiculously dangerous deliveries from the right-wing. At the absolute least he deserves a chance in the Cups next season, and I believe he could prove his worth and become an alternative option to Matteo Darmian.
In all honesty, loaning out Varela doesn’t make sense at all. In March, Varela will be 24 and far past the age where he should continuously find his way in and out of the club on loan. If Varela isn’t deemed ready for the first team at United by Mourinho, odds are he’ll never be a player as big as his potential. Eintracht Frankfurt reportedly wants him as an eventual permanent option, and if they do, it would be the right decision to negotiate a deal for the player now instead of slowly phasing him out of the club and risking a failed loan deal.
However, I certainly hope we won’t be seeing the likes of Antonio Valencia and Phil Jones at right fullback next season, if Jones stays as a central defender, that is one thing, but Varela has certainly earned his place over Valencia, who was nothing short of atrocious at almost all key moments in the season for United last year. Rafael already left the club because Louis van Gaal preferred Valencia, which was a bizarre decision, to say the least, and Valencia is as much the future as he is the present, he’ll be 31 in August. Valencia has had a good tenure at the club, but it is time to move on and also time to stop accepting the shorter term, lower quality options. United has always been a club to build or attract the highest quality, and exceptions shouldn’t be made now.
Overall, however, it is nice to see the standards already being set at United by Mourinho. He’s clearly illustrated to the players that they need to impress him regardless of how good they were in the past. I certainly hope that same opportunity is given to Guillermo Varela, a player who has shown that he definitely has what it takes to make it at United. One of the biggest mistakes van Gaal made at United was giving chances to players who had too many and not giving enough chances to players who deserved more. Mourinho doesn’t seem to be making the same mistake so far, and United fans will hope it stays that way.