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Player Profile: Diogo Dalot – the rise from reserve football to the biggest club in the world

Manchester United confirmed the signing of 19-year-old Diogo Dalot from FC Porto in a reported €22 million fee earlier this week. From the time the interest in the young Portuguese defender was first made known to the eventual signing of the player was around a week with negotiations coming to a conclusion the weekend before last. Dalot is a relatively inexperienced player, playing only a handful of matches at first team level, also playing out of position in the left-back role, covering for a player on the sidelines.

The fact that United manager Jose Mourinho has spoken so highly of the player suggests to me that United and Mourinho have seen the player extensively, which is why he comes to the club as highly rated as he is. It is suggested that he could make his debut for the club this season, where he will be expected to take over from Antonio Valencia, the clubs right-back at this moment in time. Dalot seems to be a very level-headed player, thankful for the chance he has been given but also confident of what he could achieve.

On signing for United, Dalot, who had played just seven competitive first team matches for Porto, speaking to the official Manchester United website, said:

“Joining Manchester United is an unbelievable opportunity for me. I have grown up in Porto’s Academy and I am so thankful for everything they have done for me. But the chance of coming to the biggest club in the world is something I just couldn’t turn down. I’m excited about working with Jose Mourinho and learning everything I can from such a successful coach. I am looking forward to playing alongside the fantastic players in the squad.”

Mourinho, speaking about his first summer signing, spoke to the official Manchester United website, saying:

“Diogo [Dalot] is an extremely talented young defender with all the qualities to quickly become a great player for this club. He has all the attributes that a full-back needs: physicality, tactical intelligence and technical quality, combined with a Porto Academy mentality which prepares players for the maturity they need at the professional level. In his age group, he is the best full-back in Europe and we all believe he has a bright future ahead of him at Manchester United.”

It shows that Mourinho and United have been tracking Dalot for some time, especially in the fact that Mourinho has branded the player as the best full-back from his age group in Europe. The player has obviously got a good head on his shoulders, not only to be able to move to one of the biggest clubs in the world at his age but to be confident of his abilities, which at his age is not something every player has in their remit.

Dalot started his footballing career at the age of nine in the Fintas Academy in his hometown, Braga and left the Academy in 2008 when he joined FC Porto. He was also wanted by Benfica at that time. Dalot is a player with natural pace, a modern full-back, one that can cross the ball, which will be great to see in the years to come, one who can play on the right or the left, which shows just how good he can be in the years to come.

During the 2014/15 season, Dalot was loaned out to Padroense in the Portuguese Second Division and his experience in the Porto reserve team helped him on the way to where he is today, also giving him youth international experience, of which he has played alongside United third choice goalkeeper Joel Pereira. Dalot has been capped for Portugal from U15 to U21 level, leaving just the senior team for him t be called up to, which after a year or two at United, could be something he achieves.

The 19-year-old made his debut for Porto’s first team in October 2017, playing his first Primeira Liga in February 2018. Despite lacking experience at first team level, what Dalot has shown was encouraging, also suggesting that his future is bright. Mourinho will probably have been scouting the player for some time, or United were. Perhaps Javier Ribalta, United’s new scout, who came to the club last summer, was the lynchpin in bringing Dalot to the Premier League.

It has been suggested that Portugal coach Fernando Santos has been casting the eye over Dalot and perhaps the European Championships in 2020 could be his first tournament for the senior Portuguese side. Who knows where his time at United could take him. I am sure Mourinho will test the player during the pre-season tour of the United States of America and Germany where United will be pitted against Club America, San Jose Earthquakes, AC Milan, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Perhaps Dalot will rise as a first team hopeful in the coming season, or even achieve that. Given the time and putting in the performances expected of him, Dalot will have a lot of work to do in order to make United’s first team consistently. Antonio Valencia will be the player he will need to better in order to become a mainstay in the team, with is something we as Manchester United supporters will be hoping he achieves.

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