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Manchester United close to signing Portuguese fullback Diogo Dalot from FC Porto in €20m deal

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is reportedly close to making his first transfer of the summer. This was reported recently as likely to be Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk, who will be in the country later this week as Brazil will play Croatia at Anfield on Sunday afternoon. However, on Tuesday evening, news broke which suggested United had activated a €20 million clause in the contract of FC Porto right-back Diogo Dalot.

According to the report, by Jason Burt of the Telegraph, an announcement on the 19-year-old is due in the next few days. It was suggested late last month that Mourinho was seeking a right-back, a left-back, a central defender, at least one midfielder and possibly a forward in the rile as a right-winger this summer. Obviously, all areas are a weakness for United, especially the fullback roles, but also the midfield with Michael Carrick already hanging up his boots and Marouane Fellaini increasingly likely to leave in the summer as a free agent.

Burt has stated that Dalot has agreed on personal terms with the Old Trafford club. Antonio Valencia, the clubs right-back has needed a successor for some time now, many thought that would be Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who can play in a number of positions, including right-back, central defence and even a role in midfield. If the reports that Dalot is Old Trafford bound are true, it shows that Mourinho, despite needing to fill a void at right-back, did not think it was as important a position to fill as others.

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Dalot, 19, only emerged in the Porto first team this season and has played a handful of matches, including one at left-back against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League at Anfield. However, he is regarded in his native Portugal to hold great potential. Porto will not be happy to sell the player, as they wanted him to renew but as his current contract expires next years and the clause has seemingly been activated, selling is now the only option for the Portuguese club.

United and Mourinho have moved quickly in a bid to sign the 19-year-old with Juventus, Napoli, Barcelona and Real Madrid all said to hold an interested in the young defender. Dalot is said to be a modern fullback who is comfortable in attack, has good delivery and an eye for a goal. He has been at Porto for around a decade, joining the Academy in 2008 and holds some youth international experience, winning the U17 European Championships in 2016, also playing in the U20 World Cup last year.

It seems that Mourinho has not just swooped in for a player he knew nothing about. He has had stints in Portugal after leaving Chelsea during his second spell at the London club, in which he could have been watching players for his next job in football, having scouts watch the player at various times this season, which has resulted in United seemingly making a swoop for the player, luring him to the Theatre of Dreams.

The right-back role is something United have had many problems with this season. Valencia is not getting any younger and at times this season, Ashley Young and Matteo Darmian have played in the position, with Victor Lindelof and even Eric Bailly stepping in during matches, at times. Mourinho does not hold much confidence in anyone other than Valencia, who has done well in the role, but is heading into the twilight of his career, the main reason why United needed to find a solution sooner rather than later.

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Jan Hagen, a freelance writer who devotes himself to Portuguese football has given some insight into Dalot. He has stated that the 19-year-old played for Porto’s B team for the majority of the season but covered for left-back Alex Telles for seven matches during the winter. Hagen stated that Dalot was crucial in the victory over Sporting, also holding his ground against Liverpool in a 0-0 draw at Anfield. He also stated that Porto had desperately tried to renew the player’s contract, with this reports materialising, they seem to have failed.

Hagen also stated that Porto’s desperation to renew Dalot shows how highly he is rated, which could suggest the potential of the young defender. Dalot can play at both right-back and left-back, is attack-minded and was due to replace Ricardo Pereira, who recently signed for Leicester City. Despite the player being young and inexperienced, Hagen stated that he has all the tools required to become a top fullback, being strong, quick, good at going forward, also capable at defending.

It should also be stated that in no terms is Dalot a player who would immediately start at one of the biggest clubs in the world, but given that time to develop on the pitch, which is something he would have got at Porto next season, he will start to find his feet in his position. Hagen stated that Dalot could be showing his potential within one to three seasons. Patience will be something everyone needs to adopt anyway, seemingly wanting a quick fix to the problems United have faced, which is never something that happens.

If United are on the cusp of signing Dalot, Mourinho will have done some pretty decent business this summer already with Fred reportedly on the horizon and the club also seeking to push forward with moves for Toby Alderweireld and the club also monitoring the situation Gareth Bale has put himself in with his comments immediately after winning the UEFA Champions League for Real Madrid on Saturday, his fourth in five years.

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