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The Ralf Rangnick Era: Five players who could flourish and five who could leave

Manchester United started off the Ralf Rangnick era with a top performance against Crystal Palace last weekend, running out 1-0 winners in a game where United could have scored five. The instant impact of Rangnick’s arrival was evident from the first whistle, with United pressing high up the pitch and recovering the ball quickly. This type of pressing and control is a different style of playing in comparison to recent years, so in this article we’ll take a look at five players who could flourish and five who may be heading for the exit:

Five Who Could Flourish:

1. Fred

The first player in this list is almost an obvious pick after recent performances. The 28-year-old Brazilian has been hugely impressive in the last four games, sticking to his best attributes of breaking up play and providing energy in United’s midfield. 

If Fred was capable of doing this consistently then there’s no doubt around the fact that he’d be considered one of the top midfielders in the league, however this has not been the case during his time at United thus far. Fortunately, with Ralf Rangnick’s preference for fast and high pressing football, Fred may be better suited to perform to his best ability more consistently.

Already proving to be the matchwinner in his first game under Rangnick, Fred produced a brilliant performance- deservedly winning man of the match. With all of this being said, under Rangnick’s expert coaching and being well suited to United’s new system, Fred is one of the players who will look to improve the most over the next six months; and hopefully finally fulfil his full potential for United.

2. Victor Lindelof

Victor Lindelof is a player who may be surprised that he’s currently featured so frequently in the United starting eleven, however an injury to Raphael Varane has afforded the Swede an opportunity to stake a claim for a permanent spot. The 27-year-old has actually been one of United’s better performing defenders this season, although that’s not saying too much. 

Having just been promoted to Sweden captaincy it seems Lindelof has gained more maturity and this is showing in his performances. During Rangnick’s first game in charge, Lindelof was aggressive and tenacious when pressing further up the pitch. Additionally, he was able to pass out accurately and switch the play with ease, which was to the benefit of United’s charging fullbacks and forwards.

It’s likely that when Varane comes back from injury Lindelof will be delegated to the bench once more, however this isn’t certain as club captain Harry Maguire has had an awful season so far. Whether Lindelof manages to become a regular starter or not, there’s some good signs for a high level of performance from the Swedish captain, suited to Rangnick’s affinity for pressing high and aggressively.

3. Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood burst onto the scene at United as a teenage sensation, managing to bag a hugely impressive 19 goals in the 2019/2020 season. While not quite reaching those numbers last season, Greenwood has started this season well- scoring some brilliant goals already. 

Greenwood has already scored five goals in all competitions thus far and has the potential to surpass his impressive haul of 19 from a couple of seasons ago. The 20-year-old registered an assist in Rangnick’s first game in charge and scored a stunning goal in United’s final Champions League group game against BSC Young Boys

The deadly forward was largely restricted to a role on the wing in recent years, but with Rangnick’s preferred 4-2-2-2 system Greenwood may be able to start as one of the two strikers more regularly, allowing him ample opportunity to score. 

Rangnick has already spoken about Greenwood’s talent and potential, having been impressed with his performances so far this season, which means Greenwood should mature into an even more deadly forward under Rangnick.

4. Diogo Dalot

United have relied on Aaron Wan-Bissaka as the right-back option heavily during his time at the club, while Portuguese Diogo Dalot has been second choice. Dalot, who joined from Porto, was touted as one of the most promising fullbacks in world football when he initially signed. 

Unsurprisingly, the 22-year-old has failed to live up to the hype just yet, although there is still ample time for him to develop his game. Dalot moved to AC Milan in 2020 for a moderately successful loan spell, which many thought would lead to his permanent sale. 

This didn’t happen though, and it now looks likely that Dalot may be able to displace out of form Bissaka for the starting spot in the team. As mentioned previously, Rangnick likes proactive football with high pressing and attacking fullbacks- something more suited to Dalot’s natural game than Wan-Bissaka’s. 

In the game against Crystal Palace Dalot was a constant threat, overlapping and knocking balls into the box all game. In addition to this he came very close to scoring at the end of the first half after a nice run. Rangnick may well just prefer to use Dalot as his starting right-back, which could lead to the Portuguese’s best run of form yet.

5. Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho’s start to life at United has not quite been what he or the fans may have expected, however in the last week or so there are signs that he might start hitting form. Sancho struggled under former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, spending more time on the bench than he would have liked. 

However, it looks like Sancho may be granted a first team role under Rangnick, playing in one of the number 10 roles alongside Bruno Fernandes.  After scoring twice in one week under Michael Carrick, Sancho may start performing to his best ability under a new manager who actually tried to sign him several years ago.

Rangnick recognises the talent in the young English forward after presumably watching him intensely during his career at Borussia Dortmund. Playing in an inside 10 role may benefit Sancho, who can start linking up with the strikers and fullbacks more cohesively, which should ultimately lead to a flurry of goals and assists.

Five Who Could Leave:

1. Anthony Martial

After announcing himself in dramatic style against Liverpool in 2015, Anthony Martial has never fully reached that same height again. The Frenchman has had periods of good form but has never consistently impressed or shown enough to be a first choice Manchester United striker. 

Since the arrivals of the likes of Edinson Cavani and Jadon Sancho, Martial has been starved for game time or any kind of good form. News also broke this week from Martial’s agent Philippe Lamboley, stating the striker wishes to leave the club in January due to his lack of game time, which all but confirms the exit is looming for the once promising 26-year-old.

2. Eric Bailly

Eric Bailly is a player that has only recently signed a new deal with United, yet presently sits as fourth choice centre-back. The Ivorian has expressed his desire to play games and help the club, yet under Solskjaer this opportunity was not presented. Bailly has a high level of talent but his tendency to make rash decisions holds him back from being selected week in week out. 

Theoretically Bailly fits in with Rangnick’s high intensity pressing football perfectly, but it looks like he will have to settle with being a squad player after the arrival of Raphael Varane and the good form of Victor Lindelof, plus the fact that it’s likely club captain Harry Maguire will be retained as a starter. All of this being said, Bailly will probably look to seek another club in order to gain more playing time.

3. Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson looked very likely to replace David de Gea as United’s number one goalkeeper towards the end of last season, however a De Gea resurgence has shut down any chance of that happening. 

Henderson possesses enormous amounts of talent for such a young goalkeeper, and certainly doesn’t lack the confidence necessary to be United’s first choice goalkeeper. Henderson played in United’s final Champions League group game against BSC Young Boys, putting in a confident display complete with elements of a sweeper- keeper. 

This would be to Rangnick’s liking, however the United manager has made it clear that De Gea is number one, which could indicate rumours about a potential loan or permanent move away could become something more concrete.

4. Jesse Lingard

The longstanding saga surrounding Jesse Lingard and his United future should finally come to a close under Rangnick’s reign as manager. While there are no doubts surrounding the quality Lingard has, it’s clear the academy graduate wants to be starting games, deservedly so too. West Ham looked like a likely destination after an impressive loan spell there last season, although Newcastle United are starting to show interest as well. 

Lingard will suit Rangnick’s style of pressing, but it feels like it’s too late for the 28-year-old to revive his United career at this point.

5. Juan Mata

Juan Mata has been an excellent servant to United since joining back in David Moyes’s short spell as manager. Mata has always oozed class when playing but he finally seems to be at the stage where his body can no longer cope with the rhythm and intensity of the Premier League. 

The 33-year-old has only made three appearances so far this season and there have been suggestions Mata may prefer a return to Spain sooner than later. It’s distinctly obvious Mata is the wrong type of profile to carry out the intensive pressing style of play United are expected to develop over the next six months, meaning a January or summer exit is on the cards.

In addition to the players mentioned above there are still several futures that could pan out either way- including the likes of Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba. Rangnick will be keen to trim the squad down and assemble a team more in his image over the next few months, and if successful United may finally compete for the Premier League title once more.

Written by Sam Wilson

Six Manchester United players who could be facing the axe as early as January

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could choose to axe up to six (maybe more) players from his squad this season with the January transfer window vastly approaching. Solskjaer has 28 experienced players in his squad this season, not to mention the talented youth players earning their plaudits from the academy. This means that there are a number of players who could be seen as surplus to requirements.

During the summer transfer windows, it was expected that United would get rid of a lot of the deadwood at the club but the post-coronavirus transfer market was not very positive for United, who needed buyers for the players they wanted to sell. It would have allowed United to strengthen on key areas ahead of the new season. Perhaps the much-needed changes could be made in January, or beyond?

United initially started the season in fine form with two wins and one draw in the first three Premier League matches before the first international break of the season, beating Leeds United 5-1 and Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 – drawing 1-1 with Southampton. It was a positive start to the season, which should have only got better for United – but there was a problem lying in wait.

After the first international break, United beat Newcastle United 4-1 in the league, were beaten 2-1 by Young Boys in the Champions League, beat West Ham United 2-1 in the league before a 1-0 defeat against the Hammers in the Carabao Cup, then losing 1-0 to Aston Villa in the league, beating Villarreal 2-1 in the Champions League and final, drawing 1-1 to Everton in the league before the second international break.

Here are six players with limited futures at Manchester United…

Diogo Dalot, 22 – right-back

The Portuguese right-back has made just five appearances for the club this season, playing a total of 288 minutes of football, which suggests his future could be up in the air. Granted, he was only given the minutes he has in rotation, more importantly because Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off in the Champions League against Young Boys, therefore he was suspended for the win over Villarreal – the suspension now lasts two matches.

This will give Dalot some minutes on the pitch this season, providing an appeal for the two-match suspension is not won by United, meaning he will likely play in the first group stage match against Atalanta on the 20 October. When he has played this season, the Portuguese right-back has looked terrible – although that may change in the future if he is given more time on the pitch, but that seems doubtful.

It is suggested that Jose Mourinho would be interested in signing the player for the second time in his career, this time for AS Roma, but it would all depend on whether the Portuguese manager had the money for a potential deal, considering the player has more than two and a half years left on his contract. Based on the fact that Solskjaer wanted to sign Kieran Trippier in the summer, it would suggest Dalot is not wanted.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 2.5/5

Phil Jones, 29 – central defender

He did not play for the entire 2020/21 season and last played a match for the United first team in January 2020. This latest in a long line of knee injuries seems to have cost him dearly. He has played twice for the U23’s so far this season, getting 180 minutes of football under his belt. He was on the bench against West Ham in the Carabao Cup, which so far is the only appearances he has made at senior level, despite not playing.

It was expected that he would be involved in the first team, at least in the Premier League after not being named in the Champions League squad. But other than the West Ham match in the Carabao Cup, Jones has not featured for United. That could be a worrying sign because of his injury or it could be just to protect him, s he actually recovers from the knee injury.

It is hard to see Jones get ahead of Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly, which is seemingly the pecking order at the club this season. There is also Teden Mengi, who could also be ahead of Jones, possibly even Bailly. I think for him to have a career, leaving United is the best option both for the player and the Old Trafford club. Getting back to his best, which has not really been shown will be hard.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 3.5/5

Eric Bally, 27 – central defender

The Ivory Coast international started the season late after his participation in the Olympics in Tokyo this summer. He has only featured in one match, playing 90 minutes in the 1-0 defeat to West Ham in the Carabao Cup. Bailly has been on the bench for United in a further five matches, but so far has not been used as a substitute. His injury record is also questionable, like Jones’ record at the club.

Bailly has the likes of Maguire, Varane, Lindelof, Jones and Mengi to contest with in the central defensive positions and it seems likely that both Varane and Maguire will be the main partnership, with Varane stepping in as the third-choice player, leaving Bailly, Jones and Mengi to contest for the fourth-choice player in this position. It seems unlikely that Bailly will play a lot of football – unless there are further injuries.

The rotation option seems to be the best option for him and he could perhaps contest Lindelof’s place in the team replacing him, which would involve him playing to the best of his abilities, not jumping into any rash tackles and maintaining his fitness level and not suffering any injuries – which seems unlikely in itself. It could be that the player will opt to leave, despite signing a new contract less than six months ago.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 3/5

Jesse Lingard, 28 – attacking midfielder/winger

It was expected that his loan spell with West Ham last season would have been the precursor to him leaving the club this season, but the player decided to fight for his place, which still is not guaranteed at the club. Lingard has played more football than others this season, also achieving more but even that is not a guarantee that he will be chosen by Solskjaer to be a regular starting player in the team.

Lingard has six appearances for the club this season, playing just 136 minutes of football, scoring two goals and getting one assist. One of his goal was the winner in the league against the Hammers, with the assist coming against Villarreal in the Champions League – with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the goal to get United their first points in the competition this season. It was good to see him achieve that to be fair.

It would seem unlikely that Lingard and will push the likes of Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes out of their places this season but I am sure he will have a good go at doing so. Lingard’s contract will expire at the end of the season, so unless a new contract is signed, his future at the club seems over. United could sell him in January or lose him on a free in the summer.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 4/5

Juan Mata, 33 – attacking midfielder

He is the fifth oldest player at he club this season, with two of those ahead of him being Lee Grant, 38 and Tom Heaton, 35 with both not likely to play much football this season. The oldest player is Cristiano Ronaldo, 36 with Edinson Cavani, 34 just ahead of him. Mata has made one appearance for United this season, playing 62 minutes in the Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham.

He has been on the bench seven times this season, but was not utilised for the last two Premier League matches, the 1-0 defeat to Villa and the 1-1 draw with Everton. When the likes of Rashford and Amad Diallo are back to full fitness and able to feature for United, there is a chance that Mata could not find much involvement on the pitch this season. It was not a great performance, although that might improve as the season goes on.

Of course, with his contract expiring in the summer, it is possible that Mata could retire from the game or even head into coaching with United, which is something that could be done whilst his current contract is active. He has been a positive player for United in his time at the club but it would seem that his best days are behind him. He has a good footballing mind, which is a shame to lose him, but it’s better not to plod on like this.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 3.5/5

Donny van de Beek, 24 – central midfielder/attacking midfielder

The Dutchman only arrived at United last season and had a tough first season at the club with not a lot of playing time and only contributing one goal and two assists for the club. This season, it seems tougher for him as despite making three appearances, he has only played 141 minutes of football, which is not enough for a player of his calibre. That said, he’s not competing with Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay or Fred for a place.

United have a lack of defensive minded midfielders at the club with just Matic the experienced one and McTominay playing as big a role in that position as he can. Perhaps a change in formation will give other players a chance but it is the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and to a point, Lingard that he’s competing with for a place in the team. That is why it is tough for him to get a place in the squad, despite what some fans say.

It is suggested that Van de Beek is seeking to leave the club in January, which was an avenue that he tried in the summer with his agent speaking to Everton and the move being denied by Solskjaer. The Norwegian manager says he has a place in the team, but in the early stages of the season, I can see why the player is frustrated but giving up without a fight is not really a good thing to do.

Likelihood of player leaving in January: 4/5

Solskjaer has a talented squad at United this season, a squad that at this time is underperforming with some supporters on social media calling for him to be sacked, which seems to be the case with fans like that – which has happened for each manager post-Sir Alex Ferguson; David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. These so-called supporters think they have the answers, with many suggesting that Mourinho was the one.

To see this time and time again shows that modern-day football supporters have no patience. They seem to assume that success can be provided for a price, which is never the case. With any manager, there are problem period and period of success – that is part and parcel in football. In a 20 team league, there can only be one winner but the expectation of these ‘United fans’ seems to suggest that United should win all the time.

The manager can only do part of the work. You can see this when these social media fans credit a win to individual brilliance but blame a draw or a defeat on the manager. It just does not make much sense. There will always be players who will moan about certain things but instead of moaning, fighting for a place and proving your worth is the best thing to do. Not every player can play a big part during the course of the season.

Let’s see what January, then the summer transfer brings for United. In terms of players at the club, there is a little about of work to get the players in for the problem positions and that should be achievable by the club and the manager. More importantly, United are still backing their manager, United are two points off the top spot in the Premier League and one point off the top of their group in the Champions League. Don’t panic!

Written by John Walker

AS Roma manager Jose Mourinho to target Diogo Dalot in January – reports

AS Roma manager, Jose Mourinho, is reported interested in signing Diogo Dalot for theItalian club during the January transfer window.

It was suggested during the summer that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was keen to sell the right-back as he was rumoured to be interested in signing Kieran Tripper of Atletico Madrid but the fee the Spanish champions wanted for the player was too high. Dalot ended up remaining at United and has been given minutes.

However, that does not suggest that the player actually has a future at United under Solskjaer, although it would be fair to give him a chance as he is a talented player and could be what United need, as long as he gets the time to show his ability.

According to Calciomercato, Mourinho wants to sign the player for the second time in his career, signing him about six months before he was sacked by United. The self-entitled ‘special one’ feels that his compatriot would add experience to the right-back position at the club with Rick Karsdorp the first-choice player at the club currently.

The 22-year-old has just under two years left on his contract at United and despite being retained by the club this season, he has made two appearances, playing just 53 minutes of football for the club. It is expected that he could replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the right-back position against West Ham United on Wednesday evening in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford, which may give him a chance to shine.

Three years into his United career, Dalot has made just 37 appearances for the club, scoring one goal and three assists. Last season, the player was loaned to Italian side AC Milan, who were interested in keeping the player this season, but nothing was agreed. The 22-year-old made 33 appearances for the club last season, scoring two goals and three assists, so has something in his locker if given a chance.

Dalot could be an important player for the future if he finds his feet at the Old Trafford club. Just playing in the Carabao Cup, the Emirates FA Cup and the lower level UEFA Champions League matches will not help him show what he has about him – he needs to be tested in the Premier League, not just as a rotation option.

Dalot is an attacking fullback who can play on both the left and the right. When playing in his favoured position, right-back, he plays as a ‘pseudo wing-back’ where he tucks in and reduces the numerical advantage when the opposition overload the midfield. In possession, he plays as a normal winger, which would suit United as Wan-Bissaka does not attack as well as he perhaps should.

The 22-year-old Portuguese fullback has the technical ability to create chances and can cross the ball and be a constant attacking threat – which is what United seemingly saw in Trippier. If Dalot could offer that, given the chance, he could well add pressure for Wan-Bissaka this season.

Solskjaer will need to think about his plans for Dalot this season as if he’s going to be looked at every so often, he’s going to want to leave the club to find a club that will give him the paying time.

United clearly have other options they are seeking, with Tripper hotly linked to the club in the summer, so Dalot being at the club now could just be because United were not able to sell him.

If Mourinho does want to buy him for Roma in the summer, and the club are able to do a deal with United which matches the fee they would like to receive for the player, as two years will run by quickly, I am sure the Portuguese manager will get his man.

However, if United have plans for the Portuguese right-back, I am sure they will try and ensure that he is not sold but he will need regular playing time at the club in order to placate the player. That said, he has not really been a regular under Solskjaer in his time at the club having played just 37 times, although the majority of them come under the Norwegian.

Personally, I would like to see Dalot given a good crack at the whip this season, which could see him become one of the first names on the team sheet providing he puts in the performances he is capable of. Dalot seems happy that Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the club this summer and that Bruno Fernandes is at the club, of which they are just two of the players he could supply from the flanks.

I am sure that over the next couple of months, we will see what Solskjaer’s plans are for Dalot and providing he gets the minutes on the pitch, he will know whether he can fight for his place at United or whether he needs to be searching for a new club. Providing Mourinho has the money to sign Dalot permanently, it could be a route out of Old Trafford for him.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United’s deadwood problem

Since Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United eight years ago, United’s recruitment has been questionable; there’s been some great signings like Bruno Fernandes but some terrible signings like Alexis Sanchez. These recruitment issues have caused a major build-up of deadwood in the United ranks over the years leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a lot of the previous manager’s mess. 

Subsequently this causes an influx of players to be left at United who are clearly not good enough, but they are eating the wages up, increasing United’s overall wage bill making it harder to offload these players and thus harder to recruit other players because the wage bill needs to be lowered.

The root to this problem is the structure at the club. Once Ferguson retired, a lot of the footballing men at the club also left. leaving a complex hierarchy that needs experienced personnel with the football clubs’ best interests at heart, to the role of businessmen. These businessmen include Matt Judge and Ed Woodward in particular. 

The main issue with these businessmen is priorities. Their priority is capital, and what will save and raise the most amount of money as possible. They don’t put the team’s best interests at heart but more the club’s financial position treating it like a business. 

As a result, when in the transfer window, despite the managers best wishes, players can be signed due to their public relations value rather than their footballing ability. Signings like Alexis Sanchez and Angel Di Maria where PR signings that were there to please the fans resulting in huge shirt sales and media attention. 

This doesn’t help the team at all as it can often mean bringing in a player that doesn’t have his heart set on a move and thus doesn’t respect the United shirt enough and soon becomes deadwood as their effort levels drop. To combat this, Solskjaer has started a rebuild on the team as well as the actual structure at United bringing in Darren Fletcher and John Murtough into roles that footballing men are more suited to. 

Murtough was recently hired as the ‘football director’ who’s role is to discusses directly with Solskjaer on targets before the negotiators approach the club and player. Previously, Woodward had had a lot of power in these situations, and this led to the deadwood being brought in but now with a footballing man discussing these transfers it can help reduce this. However, as seen with this current transfer window, despite the changes in structure, United are still struggling to sell off their deadwood. 

This is due to the astronomical wages these players have been put on under the poor recruitment. In previous years, too many signings were because of money rather than the passion and desire to play for the club. This summer the approach has changed as United are bringing in players like Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo who are all players who are hungry and want to play for the club. This is a testament to Solskjaer’s progression with the rebuild as players of this calibre were not signing for United previously. 

With these new signings having a real desire to play for United, it means the club doesn’t have to offer them huge wages making them harder to sell off in the future. To ensure that this deadwood problem doesn’t get worse, Solskjaer must keep only looking at players who will fight for the badge and aren’t in it for the money. 

Solskjaer and United should keep looking at upgrading the recruitment and changing staff to fit the clubs DNA and morals better. These gradual changes will ultimately make United a much better run club in general taking them back to the efficiency under Ferguson. 

At the club now there’s several players that United need to ship out. This includes Phil Jones, Andreas Pereira, Diogo Dalot, arguably Juan Mata and potentially Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic. Some view Mata as a vital member of the squad especially for his presence in the dressing room and thus not to be considered as deadwood, whereas others perceive him as past his best and now eating up wages. 

Lingard, on the other hand, is loved by a lot of United fans but could become deadwood if he stays at United because he’s unlikely to get many minutes for the team. Meanwhile, with the injury of Scott McTominay and the unlikely chance that a midfielder comes in so late in the window, Matic could prove a crucial part of the squad especially as he’s the only natural defensive midfielder. 

However, some feel due to his age he’s no longer at his best and can be a liability. Due to his unique skill set that United currently lack, I feel he is more important than some people realise and could be key for United this season so shouldn’t be sold off unless another defensive midfielder is brought in. Diogo Dalot is still a young player being only 22 and with Aaron Wan-Bissaka lacking competition some feel he must stay. 

Solskjaer, on the other hand, doesn’t seem particularly satisfied with Dalot and looks keen to get him out on loan or permanently sell him and thus he might be seen as deadwood especially in Solskjaer’s eyes. A player Solskjaer has looked at with great interest is Kieran Trippier. He’s a 30-year-old English right-back playing for Atletico Madrid in Spain and being a Manchester boy would love to go to United. 

This would fit the requirements that Solskjaer is trying to create as despite his age he would work incredibly hard and provide great competition for Wan-Bissaka. Therefore, if United can move Dalot on loan, that could open the opportunity to bring in Trippier who would strengthen the right-hand side even more. With Phil Jones and Andreas Pereira, most fans believe they are deadwood and their time at the club is up. Since Fernandes’ arrival, Pereira has barely had a look in and was loaned off out to Lazio last year but wasn’t majorly successful. 

If Lingard is to stay at the club, he would be third choice which would be a waste of his time and United’s. Phil Jones at one point looked like he could be a great player with Sir Alex Ferguson saying “I think Jones may be one of the best players we have ever had.” But he’s been plagued with injuries in the last couple years and with the recent signing of Raphael Varane it just pushes him further down the pecking order. Jones is on high wages, and many believe he must go as he’ll never play and is wasted at the club but due to his horrendous injury record and high wages it’s difficult to find any suitors. 

Overall, I feel the structure at this club is improving under Solskjaer’s management and with more time he could make it more and more effective. United must focus on only bringing in players that want to play for the club and keeping the wage bill down else they’ll struggle with deadwood issues again as they can’t ship these players off as their wages are too high. 

Then to keep taking this team forward, Solskjaer must get Pereira and Jones out definitely and then look to ease out Dalot, Lingard, Matic and Mata in the coming years if suitable replacements are available as it’ll reduce the wage bill and as these players are getting older it will bring fresh impetus into the club which could lead to a successful tenure for Manchester United under Solskjaer.

Written by Ethan Bents

Diogo Dalot – Right Back in Contention?

After looking like he was on his way out of the club, Diogo Dalot now appears to be an important part of Manchester United’s larger squad. He could be set for a big season ahead and has the chance to kickstart his United career.

The Portuguese right-back was signed by former United manager, Jose Mourinho, from FC Porto in the 2018 summer transfer window. Arriving for a fee of £19.8 million, Mourinho was impressed by Dalot’s experience in the Porto academy, physicality, technical ability and attacking nature and envisaged him as a long-term successor to Antonio Valencia. His ability to play both right-back and left-back also made him an attractive prospect. Dalot was a relatively unknown quantity outside of the Portuguese Primeira Liga and had only made his debut in that league in February 2018.

Mourinho showed great faith and belief in the young defender’s ability and potential by bringing him to United, clearly trusting his scouting network. There was a sense that Mourinho, as a Portuguese manager, had a good knowledge of the league and believed he had uncovered one of Europe’s hidden gems.

In December 2018, Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United and replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, originally as interim manager. Initially, it was unclear if Solskjær regarded Dalot as highly as his predecessor and fans waited to see whether the Norwegian would give the young full-back playing time. At the start of his tenure, Solskjær primarily used Dalot as a right-winger, due to injuries in the squad. Thanks to his strong crossing ability, signature step-over and relentless drive to get forward, Dalot did not look lost in this position. In a season highlight, Dalot came on as substitute in United’s Champions League round of 16 second leg against Paris Saint-Germain.

Brought on in the 36th minute to replace the injured Eric Bailly, Dalot put in a good performance in the biggest game of his career to that point. Memorably, a late, speculative shot from the young right-back struck the hand of PSG defender, Presnel Kimpembe, leading to Marcus Rashford’s injury-time penalty that won the tie for United. That match provided an iconic European night for United fans and is considered the result that led to Solskjaer’s permanent appointment as manager, all of which would not have been possible without Dalot. After players began to return from injury, Dalot saw his gametime decrease over the remainder of the season and he finished his first United campaign with 25 appearances.

In the summer of 2019, now as permanent manager, Solskjaer began assembling his squad for the upcoming season, filled with his own choice of players. In addition to new signings Harry Maguire and Dan James, Solskjær acquired young, English right-back, Aaron-Wan Bissaka from Crystal Palace. Wan-Bissaka proved to be a consistent performer, rarely injured and a favourite of Solskjaer, meaning Dalot was restricted to his role as back-up right back. The highlight of Dalot’s season came when he scored his first goal for the club, in a 6-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup. Overall, Dalot’s chances were limited and he made just 11 appearances in the 2019/20 season.

That summer, Diogo Dalot joined AC Milan for the 2020/21 campaign. The acquisition of Alex Telles at left-back and the development of Brandon Williams at right-back, as well as first-choice full-backs Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka continuing to perform to a high level, meant that there was no clear path to the first team for Dalot, who was now third-choice in each full-back position. In a search for more minutes and gametime, Dalot ventured on loan to Serie A with Italian giants AC Milan.

Dalot impressed at his new club and was used fairly evenly at both full-back positions, playing 17 times at right-back that season and 12 times at left-back. While a large portion of his playing time came in the Europa League, Dalot was given significantly more chances than the season prior and made 34 appearances in total for the 2020/21 season. Dalot’s strong loan spell was rewarded with a call-up to Portuguese National Team for Euro 2020, replacing the injured João Cancelo. Dalot made two appearances in the tournament, making his full senior international debut.

After the Euros, Diogo Dalot returned to Manchester earlier this summer, following his time away in Italy. Early rumours suggested he was likely to be on his way out of Old Trafford, either on loan or a permanent deal, with both a return to AC Milan and Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid reported as possible destinations. Additionally, Manchester United’s strong links to Atletico Madrid and England right-back, Kieran Trippier, seemed to cement Dalot’s imminent exit. However, in a turn of events, these links seemed to have cooled, with United reluctant to meet Atletico’s asking price, while also struggling to offload unwanted players in order to fund new arrivals.

Dalot has shone in preseason, with strong performances against Brentford and Everton, and even a remarkable headed goal in the latter game. Reports are now suggesting that United are happy to keep Dalot for the new season and believe he could prove to be an important team member throughout the campaign. Left-back Alex Telles’ recent injury, as well as Brandon Williams’ possible departure on loan, has pushed Dalot up the pecking order and increased his role in the squad. His ability to play in both full-back positions could now serve him well. He is now second-choice at both right-back and left-back and, if either Aaron Wan-Bissaka or Luke Shaw face injury or suspension, Dalot will be the first in line to come into the team.

On the right of defence, Dalot offers a different style of player to Wan-Bissaka. Dalot is not as strong defensively, and can’t compete with Wan-Bissaka’s elite level one-on-one tackling. However, Dalot’s surging runs forward and dangerous, accurate crosses (now even more useful with aerial threat Edinson Cavani in the team) can offer a strong attacking threat, an area where Wan-Bissaka struggles. Therefore, in matches against weaker teams, where United have more possession of the ball and are facing less attacks from the opposition, Dalot may prove to be a more attacking and adventurous option at right-back.

There is also a chance that Dalot could be utilised at right-wing-back. As an attacking full-back, and occasional right-winger, Dalot suits the more advanced wing-back position well. If Solskjaer chooses to deploy a back-five against teams such as Manchester City, Liverpool or Chelsea, Dalot could be used as the wing-back in the system. Rumours this summer suggested that Solskjaer wanted to try Wan-Bissaka at the right of three centre-backs in a back-five. This choice would take advantage of Wan-Bissaka’s defensive strength, pace, and tackling prowess, while not requiring him to venture forward and support the attack.

Additionally, Solskjaer has already pushed Luke Shaw back to the left-side of the three centre-backs multiple times when adopting a back-five during his tenure as United manager. In this way, if Solskjaer opts to use either of the two first-choice full-backs at centre-back, when playing with five-at-the-back, Dalot could see an opportunity to play at either vacant wing-back position.

Still only 22, Diogo Dalot now faces his best chance at getting game time for Manchester United under Solskjaer. His versatility may prove to be a valuable asset, as he now finds himself second-choice in both full-back positions. Players will certainly be rotated during cup games and throughout the duration of the season, providing important game time, and there is always the chance of injury or suspension to either Shaw or Wan-Bissaka, and Dalot may finally be able to make an impact on the Manchester United first-team.

Written by George Lavin

Player Profile: Diogo Dalot – the future right-back at Manchester United, rivalling with Aaron Wan-Bissaka?

Manchester United signed then 19-year-old Diogo Dalot from FC Porto in a reported £19 million fee in the summer of 2018 and 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 just over a week before he signed for the club. Dalot was a relatively inexperienced player at the time he signed for United, 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. This did not stop United’s interest in a player that could grow massively.

The fact that then United manager Jose Mourinho spoke so highly of the player suggests to me that United and Mourinho will have seen the player extensively, which is why he came to the club as highly rated as he was. It is suggested that he could make his debut for the club that season, which he did, where he will be expected to take over from Antonio Valencia, who was the main right-back at the club at the 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, 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 also commented about his first summer signing of 2018, speaking 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 had been tracking Dalot for some time, especially in the fact that Mourinho had branded the player as the best full-back from his age group in Europe. The player obviously has 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 to 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.

During the 2018/19 season, Dalot made his debut for the club against Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League group stage, a 3-0 victory for United. He then played in the EFL Cup against Derby County, a 2-2 draw with ended up with Derby winning 10-9 on penalties, knocking United out of the competition. He made a total of 25 appearances that season, not scoring any goals but assisting three times. Mourinho was sacked in December 2018 paving the way for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to manage the club with Dalot featuring more times under Solskjaer than for Mourinho, but he was injured from 17 October to 30 November.

Dalot featured in fewer matches for United during the 2019/20 season because of injury. He started the season with a hip injury, keeping him out from 4 August until 17 September, then suffered a groin injury from the 18 October until the 2 January 2020. This meant he only played a total of 11 times for United, scoring one goal, in the Emirates FA Cup in the 6-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers. The arrival of Aaron Wan-Bissaka may well have cost him a place at United, at least for the current season and maybe beyond. I feel that Dalot would benefit more on loan, which seemed to be in the plans of Solskjaer too.

The Portuguese full back played once for United in the Carabao Cup during the 2020/21 season and was named on the bench for another. From there, he was loaned to AC Milan for the remainder of the season, which should benefit him as a player, getting him more first team experience, which was not likely at United. So far he has made 10 appearances for Milan, more often than not in the UEFA Europa League where he has played six times, scoring one goal and two assists. He has played both at right-back and left-back for the Italian club. He has started in all six Europa League matches, starting only once in the Serie A.

Dalot will no doubt benefit from his loan spell in Italy, which may also pave the way for an exit of the Theatre of Dreams, although it is suggested that Solskjaer rates him and has no desire to sell him, according to reports in The Mirror. It is possible that Solskjaer has earmarked Dalot to rival Wan-Bissaka at right-back for United given that Tim Fosu-Mensah is out of contract in the summer and Brandon Williams, who can play in both fullback positions but has played more times in the left-back role. Solskjaer seems to be assembling a young squad, so perhaps the Portuguese defender will prevail at the club in the future.

It could well be an exciting future for United under Solskjaer with a young squad developing each and every match plus with the newly signed 19-year-old Facundo Pellistri chomping at the bit and the incoming 18-year-old Amad Diallo, who will arrive at the club next month after confirmation on deadline day back in October. United are also linked to Ecuadorian midfielder Moises Caicedo, who is also on the radar of Chelsea, according to the Daily Mail. Solskjaer is building something and if he is reluctant to sell Dalot, it would suggest that his plan for the player is in the future with United looking to succeed.

Written by John Walker

Loan Watch: Dalot scores goal and assist, Garner and Levitt frustration, debuts for Pereira and Bernard

Manchester United have twelve players on loan so far during the 2020/21 season; Tahith Chong, 20, at Werder Bremen, Matej Kovar, 20 at Swindon Town, Dylan Levitt, 19, at Charlton Athletic, Joel Pereira, 24, at Huddersfield Town, Aliou Traore, 19, at Stade Malherbe Caen, James Garner, 19, at Watford, Andreas Pereira, 24, at Lazio, Diogo Dalot, 21, at AC Milan, Max Taylor, 20, at Kidderminster Harriers, Di’Shon Bernard, 20, at Salford City, Max Haygarth, 18, at Brentford B and Jacob Carney, 19, at Brighouse Town. Many of the players on loan will be seeking to impress their loan clubs and United, seeking to find a way into first team football as soon as they can.

Tahith Chong

Last Match: Werder Bremen 1-1 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim – Bundesliga

Tahith Chong, 20, came off the bench in the 87th minute, replacing the injured Yuya Osako in the 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim on Sunday. Chong has not really had many minutes so far this season, starting just one match this season, which was the 4-1 defeat to Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga, coming off the bench four times. Chong has played a total of 128 minutes of football this season, playing in the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal. He has scored one competitive goal in the German Cup competition and probably needs to so a lot more to get back in contention to start matches, which does not look good for him at this stage of the season.

Next Match: Eintracht Frankfurt (A) – 31 October – Bundesliga

Matej Kovar

Last Match: Northampton Town 2-1 Swindon Town – League One

Matej Kovar, 20, played another 90 minutes on Tuesday evening in the 2-1 defeat to Northampton Town in League One. Kovar saw himself conceded a further two goals for the club this season, conceding a total of 19 goals fo far this season. He will be hoping that the visit to the Kassam Stadium on Oxford this weekend will deliver an upturn in the clubs form. Swindon’s next two matches against Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium and Accrington Stanley at the County Ground were suspended following recent positive COVID-19 tests at the club with players and staff needing to self isolate as per the EFL and Government guidance.

Next Match: Hull City (H) – 31 October – League One

Dylan Levitt

Last Match: Charlton Athletic 2-0 Oxford United – League One

Dylan Levitt, 19, was an unused substitute in the 1-0 victory over Blackbool in League One on Tuesday evening. Both teams were reduced to ten-men in the match with Blackpool’s James Husband sent off in the second minute and Charlton’s Ben Purrington sent off for a second bookable offence in the 39th minute of the match. Levitt then started in the 2-0 victory over Northampton Town last Saturday but was taken off at half time with Darren Prattley, who replaced Levitt scoring the opening goal of the match. Levitt was then an unused substitute in the 2-0 victory over Oxford United, a match in which Ryan Inniss was send off in the 66th minute.

Next Match: Portsmouth (A) – 31 October – League One

Joel Pereira

Last Match: Huddersfield Town 0-0 Preston North End – Championship

Joel Pereira, 24, was once again an unused substitute in the 1-0 home victory over Derby County in the Championship last Tuesday evening, the 2-1 defeat to Preston North End in the Championship on Saturday and the 2-1 defeat to Birmingham City in the Championship on Wednesday evening. It does not seem like the player is going to get many opportunities at Huddersfield this season, having been on the bench for the last nine matches without a hint of action. It really does not look good for Pereira this season, especially with the expire of his contract at United coming at the end of the 2020/21 season. It seems unlikely that United will extend.

Next Match: Millwall (A) – 31 October – Championship

Aliou Traore

Last Match: Stade Malherbe Caen 1-0 En Avant de Guingamp – Ligue 2

Aliou Traore, 19, came off the bench for Caen in their 1-0 victory over Guingamp on Saturday. He has spent the past six weeks out go action through illness, playing for the youth team earlier this month. Traore came off the bench in the 71st minute of the match, replacing Kelian Nsona. The winner came in the 90th minute through substitute Jessy Deminguet, who had been on the pitch for four minutes, assisted by Yoann Court. Traore will be seeking to get back into a starting position for his club, starting with this weekend’s clash with Paris FC, which could help him work out where his career is going to go from the end of the season.

Next Match: Paris FC (A) – 31 October – Ligue 2

James Garner

Last Match: Wycombe Wanderers 1-1 Watford – Championship

James Garner, 19, started in the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth in the Championship on Saturday but was substituted by Étienne Capoue at the start of the second half after a mixed half for Watford. Stipe Perica, assisted by Ismaïla Sarr opened the scoring in the 12th minute of the match with Bournemouth equalising in added time. Garner then came off the bench, replacing Tom Cleverley at the death in the 1-1 draw with Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday evening. Sarr opened the scoring in the 52nd minute of the match with Wycombe equalising 14 minutes later. It has been a tough week for Garner, who could be looking to start against Barnsley.

Next Match: Barnsley (A) – 31 October – Championship

Andreas Pereira

Last Match: Clube Brugge KV 1-1 Lazio – UEFA Champions League

Andreas Pereira, 24, missed the 3-1 UEFA Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund through injury last Tuesday evening. Pereira then made his debut, from the bench, replacing Luis Alberto at the start of the second half in the 2-1 victory over Bologna. Alberto scored the opening goal in the 54th minute with Ciro Immobile doubling the lead in the 76th minute. Lorenzo De Silvestri scored a consolation in added time. Pereira then made his Champions League debut for Lazio replacing the injured Patric in the 46th minute of the 1-1 draw with Brugge. Lazio opened the scoring in the 14th minute through Joaquín Correa with Brugge equalising in the 42nd.

Next Match: Torino (A) – 1 November – Serie A

Diogo Dalot

Last Match: AC Milan 3-0 Sparta Prague – UEFA Europa League

Diogo Dalot, 21, made his Milan debut last week in a 3-1 victory over Celtic in the Europa League. The 21-year-old started in the competition in his favoured right back position. Dalot played 90 minutes in the victory. He was then an unused substitute in the 3-3 draw with AS Roma in the Serie A. On Thursday evening, Dalot started for Milan in the left-back position in the Europa League against Sparta Prague. Milan won the match 3-0 – it could have been 4-0 had Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted a penalty. Dalot assisted for Rafael Leão’s goal, putting Milan 2-0 up in the 57th minute, scoring a goal himself in the 67th minute of the match to complete the victory.

Next Match: Udinese (A) – 1 November – Serie A

Max Taylor

Last Match: Chorley 0-2 Kidderminster Harriers – National League North

Max Taylor, 20, played 90 minutes in the 2-0 victory over Chorley in the National League North. The defender will be seeking to get his playing career back to full speed after beating testicular cancer last year following nine weeks of chemotherapy. He was given a one-year contract extension at United which will expire at the end of the season but was loaned to Kidderminster until January, giving him first team experience which could allow him to find full fitness and form ahead of returning to United’s U23s, which could in turn see him offered a longer contract at the Old Trafford club. His mettle was tested with cancer so has what it takes to succeed.

Next Match: Blyth Spartans (H) – 31 October – National League North

Di’Shon Bernard

Last Match: Salford City 1-1 Crawley Town – League Two

Di’Shon Bernard, 20, played no involvement in Salford’s 3-0 home victory over Southend United on Tuesday evening. Former United forward James Wilson scored the second goal of the evening for Paul Scholes’ side. He made his debut in the 1-1 draw with Crawley Town, replacing Oscar Threlkeld in the 62nd minute of the match. Former United player James Wilson put Salford ahead five minutes before Bernard was brought on but Crawley equalised in the 72nd minute through George Francomb. Bernard will be seeking to be involved in the clash with Oldham, which was the club that Scholes first managed.

Next Match: Oldham Athletic (A) – 31 October – League Two

Max Haygarth

Last Match: Hendon FC 2-6 Brentford B – London Senior Cup

Max Haygarth, 18, made his debut in the second round of the London Senior Cup in the 6-2 victory over Hendon FC on Tuesday evening at Silver Jubilee Park. Haygarth started the match on the bench and replaced Alex Gilbert in the 78th minute of the match, playing for the remaining twelve minutes of the victory. The 18-year-old will be seeking to play to a good level this season, after his debut with Brentford B, possible taking his experience back to United at the end of his loan spell with the club to hopefully propel himself into regular appearances at the U23 level, seeking to impress his manager and coaches at the club.

Next Match: Aldershot Town (H) – 30 October – Friendly

Jacob Carney

Last Match: Brighouse Town 2-0 Pontefract Collieries – NPL Division One NW

Jacob Carney, 19, made his second start for Brighouse Town on Tuesday evening in their 1-0 defeat to Pickering Town. Carney was named the Man of the Match in the defeat, which is good for the 19-year-old who will be seeking to further his career as a goalkeeper whilst on loan with the club. Carney started the 2-0 victory over Pontefract Collieries in the Northern Premier League Division One. It will be good for him to play first team football at this level, which might be seen as below the standard of U23 football at United, but will help him find his feet in the future, whether his career continues at United or beyond.

Next Match: Buxton FC (H) – 31 October – FA Trophy

Written by John Walker

Loan Watch: Bernard, Haygarth and Carney loaned out – plus see how Chong, Garner, Kovar and Taylor did

Manchester United have twelve players on loan so far during the 2020/21 season; Tahith Chong, 20, at Werder Bremen, Matej Kovar, 20 at Swindon Town, Dylan Levitt, 19, at Charlton Athletic, Joel Pereira, 24, at Huddersfield Town, Aliou Traore, 19, at Stade Malherbe Caen, James Garner, 19, at Watford, Andreas Pereira, 24, at Lazio, Diogo Dalot, 21, at AC Milan, Max Taylor, 20, at Kidderminster Harriers, Di’Shon Bernard, 20, at Salford City, Max Haygarth, 18, at Brentford B and Jacob Carney, 19, at Brighouse Town. Many of the players on loan will be seeking to impress their loan clubs and United, seeking to find a way into first team football as soon as they can.

Tahith Chong

Last Match: SC Freiburg 1-1 Werder Bremen – Bundesliga

Tahith Chong, 20, was an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw to Frieburg on Saturday. The home side took the lead through Philipp Lienhart, assisted by Lucas Höler in the 15th minute of the match. The lead was short-lived with Bremen equalising through Niclas Füllkrug, assisted by Leonardo Bittencourt just ten minutes later. Chong has played just 125 minutes for Bremen so far this season and I get the impression that he will need to do a lot more to get himself into the starting XI on a more consistent basis. Granted, he’s only 20 and has just moved to a different country but I feel that he should be doing more as the bar at United is going to be very high.

Next Match: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (H) – 25 October – Bundesliga

Matej Kovar

Last Match: Swindon Town 0-2 Sunderland – League One

Matej Kovar, 20, started once against for his loan club in their League One match against Sunderland at the County Ground on Saturday. Charlie Wyke opened the scoring in the 35th minute of the match and the second goal coming from the penalty spot with Chris Maguire converting in the 57th minute of the match. It does not look like it is going to be a good season for Kovar at Swindon with him conceding 17 goals in the matches he has played in this season. Swindon had five defenders on the pitch against Sunderland and still could not find and strength. Hopefully, this will not affect the confidence of the goalkeeper, who has a positive career ahead.

Next Match: Northampton Town (A) – 20 October – League One

Dylan Levitt

Last Match: Charlton Athletic 1-0 Wigan Athletic – League One

Dylan Levitt, 19, was an unused substitute against Wigan Athletic in League One on Saturday afternoon. Jake Forster-Caskey scored the only goal of the game ion the 65th minute of the match from 30-yards, from the free-kick, sneaking it in off the post to take the lead. Levitt has played 251 minutes for Charlton so far this season, playing in the Carabao Cup and the league, seeking more first team football to aid his career. Already a regular starter for Wales under Ryan Giggs, the 19-year-old clearly has something in his locker which could aid him during his career, whether at United or elsewhere, which would be a shame if so.

Next Match: Blackpool (A) – 20 October – League One

Joel Pereira

Last Match: Swansea City 1-2 Huddersfield Town – Championship

Joel Pereira, 24, was an unused substitute once again in the 2-1 victory over Swansea City in the Championship on Saturday afternoon at the Liberty Stadium. Huddersfield took the lead in the 23rd minute of that match through Harry Toffolo, assisted by Juninho Bacuna. The the home side equalised through André Ayew from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute of the match. The away side scored the winner in the 67th minute through Josh Koroma, assisted by Richard Stearman. In the six matches that have been played so far this season, Pereira has not had a look in once and it would seem that this would be likely to continue throughout the season.

Next Match: Derby County (H) – 17 October – Championship

Aliou Traore

Last Match: Chamois Niort 3-0 Stade Malherbe Caen – Ligue 2

Aliou Traore, 19, was once again not involved in the 3-0 defeat to Chamois Niort in Ligue 2 on Saturday. Traore was ill a month ago, playing both first team matches against Clermont Foot, a 0-0 draw and against AC Ajacciom a 1-0 victory, playing 34 minutes between the two matches. He also feature three times for the youth team, playing against FC Rouen 1899, a 1-1 draw, FC Versailles, a 1-0 victory – playing 106 minutes of football before illness. On the 10th October, Traore played for the youth team once again, against Vannes, a 0-0 draw, playing 63 minutes of football. He might have a but more to do to break into the first team once more, now he is better.

Next Match: En Avant de Guingamp (H) – 24 October – Ligue 2

James Garner

Last Match: Derby County 0-1 Watford – Championship

James Garner, 19, started on the bench against Derby County at Pride Park on Friday evening in the Championship. After a tough match between the two sides, Watford scored the only goal of the game in the 76th minute of the match through João Pedro, assisted by Ben Wilmot. It looked as if Garner would not feature for his loan club in that match but in the final minute, he replaced Domingos Quina, playing one minute plus stoppage time in the victory. He came up against former United forward Wayne Rooney, who is the captain for Derby, which would have been good for him. However, it would have been better if he played more football.

Next Match: Blackburn Rovers (H) – 21 October – Championship

Andreas Pereira

Last Match: Sampdoria 3-0 Lazio – Serie A

Andreas Pereira, 24, was not involved in the 3-0 defeat to Sampdoria in Serie A on Saturday afternoon. It was the first match he was eligible to play in following his loan spell commencing at the Italian club. It was expected that he would not feature much for United this season, having had no involvement at the club since last season. To break into the Lazio side, he will need to impress, despite the fact the club has beaten just Cagliari this season, drawing against Inter Milan and losing to Sampdoria and Atalanta. He might play more first team football than he would have at United with so many players that offer so much more than him.

Next Match: Borussia Dortmund (H) – 20 October – UEFA Champions League

Diogo Dalot

Last Match: Inter Milan 1-2 AC Milan – Serie A

Diogo Dalot, 21, was an unused substitute in the 20-1 victory over Inter Milan at the San Siro on Saturday in the Serie A. Former United forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a brace in the 13ht and 16 minutes of the match, his second goal assisted by Rafael Leão. Inter hit back though another former United forward, Romelu Lukaku, assisted by Ivan Perisic in the 29th minute of the match. Dalot will have also seen another United forward, Alexis Sanchez who came on late in the match. Ashley Young was not involved in the match or the reunion. The Portuguese right-back is a future talent by United but his participation might be a minimum in Milan.

Next Match: Celtic (A) – 22 October – UEFA Europa League

Max Taylor

Last Match: Darlington 1-3 Kidderminster Harriers – National League North

Max Taylor, 20, was loaned ot Kidderminster Harriers at the start of October, initially until January. The club have not played since the 10th October as their Vanarama National League North match against Alfreton Town this weekend was postponed. Taylor has made three starts for the club in the 4-2 penalty defeat against Alvechurch in the qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup, where he was booked, the 2-1 defeat to Chester, where he was also booked and the 3-1 victory over Darlington. Taylor might be better off with first team experience this season which might see him earn the experience to break into United’s first tea, next season, maybe?

Next Match: Chorley (A) – 24 October – National League North

Di’Shon Bernard

Last Match: Port Vale 1-0 Salford City – League Two

Di’Shon Bernard, 20, was loaned to Salford City initially until January before the closer of the domestic transfer window on Friday. Bernard was unable to play against Port Vale in the 1-0 defeat at Vale Park this weekend but will be seeking to get more first team action as soon as he can. The Ammies will be cack in League Two action on Tuesday evening at The Peninsula Stadium, welcoming Southend United where they will be seeking to get back to winning ways after their first league defeat of the season. Bernard will be looking to get his career noticed at first team level as he may be seeking to break into the United squad, which will be tough for him.

Next Match: Southend United (H) – 20 October – League Two

Max Haygarth

Last Match: Aldershot Town 3-2 Brentford B – Friendly

Max Haygarth, 18, was loaned to Brentford B before the closure of the domestic transfer window in Friday. Haygarth could feature for his loan club for the first time on Tuesday when Brentford B tase Hendon FC in the London Senior Cup at the Avenue Park Stadium. The midfielder will be seeking to find himself a regular starting place at the club, which might be tough for him. He will link up with former United academy player Ben Hockenhull, who left the club on the summer. Brentford’s academy was closed at the end of the 2015/16 season, relaunched as Brentford B and the team plays friendly matches against U21 and U23 teams home and abroad.

Next Match: Hendon FC (A) – 20 October – London Senior Cup

Jacob Carney

Last Match: Kendal Town 1-0 Brighouse Town – NPL Division One NW

Jacob Carney, 19, was only signed by Brighouse Town on Friday as the domestic transfer window closed. However, he started against Kendal Town in the NPL Division One NW, conceding the only goal of the match in the 35th minute with Emil Jaaskelainen scoring. It was good to see Carney start in his first match out on loan, with him due to remain at the club until January. It may not be the top level of football but it will be good for him to get some matches under his belt and see what he can do in the future. United have many goalkeepers in the youth ranks, so it will be a challenge to make the grade at United, hence the loan spell to see if he can do more.

Next Match: Pickering Town (A) – 20 October – NPL Division One NW

Written by John Walker

Loan Watch: Dalot signs for Milan, Pereira signs for Lazio, Garner raising his game for Watford

Manchester United have seven players on loan so far during the 2020/21 season; Tahith Chong, 20, at Bundesliga side Werder Bremen, Matej Kovar, 20 at League One side Swindon Town, Dylan Levitt, 19, at League One side Charlton Athletic, Joel Pereira, 24, at Championship side Huddersfield Town, Aliou Traore, 19, at Ligue 2 side Stade Malherbe Caen, James Garner, 19, at Championship side Watford, Andreas Pereira, 24, at Serie A side Lazio and Diogo Dalot, 21, at Serie A side AC Milan. As the summer transfer window comes to a close, there could well be more players loaned out, especially with a domestic window from the 5-16 October.

Tahith Chong

Werder Bremen 1-0 Arminia Bielefeld – Bundesliga

Tahith Chong, 20, came off the bench and played 15 minutes in the 1-0 victory over Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga on Saturday afternoon. Bremen scored through Leonardo Bittencourt in the 27th minute of the match which was assisted by Jean Manuel Mbom. It sees the German side rise to sixth in the Bundesliga this season. So far, Chong has made four appearances for the club, three in the Bundesliga and one in the DFB-Pokal playing a total of 125 minutes of action so far. The 20-year-old will be hoping to play a more regular role this season, scoring more goals to add to the one he scored in the DFB-Pokal against Carl Zeiss Jena.

Next Match: SC Freiburg (A) – 17 October – Bundesliga

Matej Kovar

Peterborough 3-1 Swindon Town – League One

Matej Kovar, 20, started and played 90 minutes in the 3-1 defeat to Peterborough on Saturday. Swindon have won twice in their last four League One matches this season, but still have not picked up any points on the road. Jack Payne opened he scoring for Swindon in the eighth minute of the match but three second half goals ended the good feeling for Swindon after Jonson Clarke-Harris scored a brace in the 48th and 69th minutes, the second from the penalty spot with Ryan Broom concussing the scoring on the 78th minute of the match. Kovar has been unfortunate this season, conceding 14 goals in six appearances so far this season.

Next Match: Exeter City (H) – 6 October – EFL Trophy

Dylan Levitt

Charlton Athletic 0-0 Sunderland – League One

Dylan Levitt, 19, started in the 0-0 draw against Sunderland on Saturday in League One. The 19-year-old was booked in the 58th minute for a foul and seemed to play well for Charlton, who have set their sights on reaching the Premier League in the near future – which might be a stretch. He only played 84 minutes during the match having been replaced by Marcus Maddison. He will be happy with the game time that he has had to far this season and will be seeking to impress his manager for the remainder of the season. If you have seen Levitt play, you will know that he has the talent to succeed and playing in League One will be good for him.

Next Match: Wigan Athletic (H) – 17 October – League One

Joel Pereira

Rotherham 1-1 Huddersfield Town – Championship

Joel Pereira, 24, one again was unused substitute in the 1-1 draw against Rotherham on Saturday in the Championship. The Portuguese goalkeeper had not yet played a single minute for his loan club and looks to be rooted to the bench with Ben Hamer seen as the number one goalkeeper at the club. It makes you wonder if Pereira has any chance of succeeding anywhere or whether each loan spell will continue to be a waste of time for him as he is not playing much football at all. He seemed to be a confident and talented goalkeeper a few years back but nothing seems to be going right for him. He might player after the international break.

Next Match: Swansea City (A) – 17 October – Championship

Aliou Traore

Stade Malherbe Caen 1-0 Amiens – Ligue 2

Aliou Traore, 19, did not feature in the 1-0 Ligue 2 victory over Amiens on Saturday. In recent weeks he has been ill and is expected to still be recovering. He has played in two first team matches the season and two youth league matches, missing the last four matches for the first team. The next match for Caen will be played after the international break so Traore could be well enough to be considered for the first team after the break to the club league season. It is not yet known as to whether the player has a future at United after this season as his desire to play first team football is strong. It could well be that this is the start of a permanent exit for him.

Next Match: Niort (A) – 17 October – Ligue 2

James Garner

Reading 1-0 Watford – Championship

James Garner, 19, made another start for Watford in the 1-0 defeat to Reading at the Madejski Stadium, playing 90 minutes. It was an unfortunate result for Watford with the home side opening the scoring in the 41st minute of the match through record signing George Puscas, assisted by Tom Holmes. Garner ratted the crossbar with a stunning free-kick in the 23rd minute of the match, which looked destined for the back of the net. Garner has the talent to succeed at Watford this season and will be learning a lot playing first team football in the Championship. With the international break, he will be seeking to start again against Derby at Pride Park.

Next Match: Derby County (A) – 16 October – Championship

Andreas Pereira

Lazio 1-1 Inter Milan – Serie A

Andreas Pereira, 24, was signed by Serie A side Lazio late last week and was not involved in the 1-1 draw to Inter Milan on Sunday. Pereira has not played since last season and was not likely to get many matches at United this season based on the players they have in midfield, who are all likelier to feature more than him. It will be his third loan spell away from United and it could well be his last as he’s never really made an impact at the club. After the international break, Pereira will be seeking to break into the starting XI at Lazio and it will be interesting if he does and what position he will play in Italy. It could be the start of something for him.

Next Match: Sampdoria (A) – 17 October – Serie A

Diogo Dalot

AC Milan 3-0 Spezia Calcio – Serie A

Diogo Dalot, 21, was confirmed as an AC Milan player on Sunday as the club beat Spezia Calcio 3-0 in the Serie A. Dalot last played for United against Brighton and Hove Albion in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening in a 3-0 victory. Rafael Leão scored a brace in the 57th and 78th minutes of the match with Theo Hernández scoring in the 76th minute of the match to complete the scoring. Milan sit second in the table with nine points in three matches only goal difference between them and league leaders Atalanta. Dalot will be seeking to get some first team experience for the club this season which could commence in their next match – the Milan derby.

Next Match: Inter Milan (A) – 17 October – Serie A

Written by John Walker

Everton and Paris Saint-Germain interested in signing Diogo Dalot

The writing has been on the wall for Manchester United fullback Diogo Dalot after seldom playing under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season, even at a time whereby the manager suffered a fullback injury crisis. In the summer of 2018, Dalot, then 19, arrived at the Theatre of Dreams from FC Porto for £19 million. In two years, a lot has changed at United with Jose Mourinho, the manager who signed Dalot, being sacked and Solskjaer replacing him. It would seem the player does not fit into the clubs plans.

Whilst it may seem to be a shame for the now 21-year-old, it is not the end of the world for him. Last month, the player was linked to Barcelona, which is something that may not be the case now that Ronald Koeman has now been announced as the new manager of the club. The Portuguese fullback was also linked to Everton and is now being linked to Paris Saint-Germain, one of the finalists of the UEFA Champions League this season. It is clear that other managers see the player as something they may want.

In Portugal, O Jogo, as reported by SportWitness, suggest that the fullback is one of the players that United would be looking to get rid of this summer. Despite being used sparingly at the time he took over from Mourinho, Solskjaer brought Aaron Wan-Bissaka to the club, who has been the first-choice right back at the club this season. Ever since Ashley Young was sold to Inter Milan in January, Brandon Williams and Tim Fosu-Mensah have both been used as rotation options in the right-back position.

Williams has also come through from the academy to give depth in the left-back position, which is where he has predominantly played whilst Luke Shaw was on the sidelines through injury, which is currently the case with the former Southampton player. O Jogo also state that Carlo Ancelotti’s interest in the player is for a right-back that can play as a third central defender when needed, which may or may not fit in for the player. However, PSG’s interest seems to be minimal with the club only having ‘thought of him’.

That said, there might be other interest from French clubs this summer. I will remain to be seen whether the player is interested in remaining in England, signing for Everton, if the club comes forth with an offer for him, or whether he will be looking to move back to the continent. The interest from Barcelona might well materialise again, providing the club get rid of some of they players they are looking to sell this summer, in order to fund a rebuild. I cannot help but thinking that Koeman might not have a lot of time to make big changes at the Catalan club.

During the 2019/20 season, Dalot made only 11 appearances for United, playing 577 minutes of football and scoring one goal for the club. Since signing for United, the 21-year-old has made a total of 34 appearances for the club, scoring one goal and assisting three more. The fullback can play at both right and left-back, also playing on the right of midfield, which sees the player in a more attacking role. However, that did not work out for him very well at United, so may not be the perfect position for the player. Whilst it might be the end of the road for Dalot’s United career, his career in football is only just starting.

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW