Manchester United confirmed the departure of Matteo Darmian who has signed a four-year contract with Serie A side Parma. The 29-year-old has spent four years at United, making a total of 92 appearances, scoring one goal. There was a period, at the start of his career that the Italian was lauded as the next Gary Neville, but that soon burned out.
At the time Louis van Gaal signed Darmian, it was a signing that was welcomed at the club as a fullback was needed to take the pressure off Antonio Valencia, who had predominantly played in the position after being converted from a winger. That did not really work well for United, despite the Ecuadorian knuckling down and aiming to perform.
The 29-year-old settled in his role until he lost his early form which had seen him likened to Neville. Darmian cost United £12.7 million and has been sold for £3.4 million along with a sell-on clause being inserted in the deal so that if the player moves again, United will receive a percentage of the final transfer fee. A good move by the Old Trafford club.
Some may moan about the relatively small transfer fee but when you consider the fact that that player was into his last year at the club and could sign a pre-contract with foreign clubs as early as January, remaining at United for the rest of this season and leaving as a free agent, it shows that United got as good a deal as they could.
The Italian will be remembered for his early form and the fact that it was thought the club had found a fullback that could lead the club forward after the likes of Neville and Rafael da Silva has played in the position. He will also be known for his professionalism. Since Van Gaal was sacked at the end of the 2015/16 season, Darmian’s playing time had decreased.
During his first season, the Italian played 39 times, which was also the season he scored his first and only goal for the club. The following season (2016/17), Darmian played 29 times, ten fewer than the previous season. Under Jose Mourinho in the 2016/17 season, in which United won the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League, Darmian played 17 times.
During the 2018/19 season, Darmian played seven times, just three times under current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, starting twice. It was clear that the Italian was not going to feature much for the club and had previously lost his place in the Italian national team, last playing for his country in 2017. He never once moaned about not playing, which was good to see, especially in this day an age.
At one stage during his United career, it was suggested that Darmian could emulate both Gary Neville and Patrice Evra, two of the most recent fullbacks that achieved a lot for the club. Darmian, however, suggested that it was impossible for him to emulate these two clubs legends, which suggests that although he was proud for this to me mentioned, he was also a realist, saying:
“They are two full-backs that have created football history, not only at Manchester United but in the world. I’ve seen them both play, they have both been two very important pillars for United. They’ve contributed to the success of the club.
“Patrice played in Italy last season so I had the possibility of more contact with him. I played against him twice in the derbies [against Juventus], and in
Italyhe is proving to be a champion just like he was at United. Obviously, Gary Neville was captain at United and is a legend at the club, the victories he had, the trophies he won … his story speaks volumes.”
This summer, Solskjaer has moved on more players than he has signed, which will be seen as a gamble, which is exactly what it is. If you look into it though, you will see that he has allowed players who were not going to be given many opportunities to play football elsewhere. Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera left the club as free agents in the summer.
Marouane Fellaini was sold to a Chinese club in January. Romelu Lukaku was sold to Inter Milan a matter of weeks ago with Alexis Sanchez joining the club on loan for the season and Chris Smalling heading to Roma for the season on loan. Darmian was the last player to leave this summer and I wish him all the best at his new club, Parma.