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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

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must offload players to make Jadon Sancho signing

Manchester United must offload a string of players the summer in order to compete the signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. United will need to pay £108 million for the 20-year-old and now that their season has come to an end, a year and five days since it started, the club will now have the time to engage in the summer transfer market in a bid to strengthen the squad this summer, adding players that will make the difference, not stutter and end up failing, like some of the current squad.

The Standard has claimed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must end some careers at the club in order to have sufficient funds to get deals across the line this summer. Despite the supposed deadline to sign Sancho passing a week ago, United are still seeking to sign the English winger and are quickly coming to terms with the fact that they will need to pay the price that Dortmund want to receive for the player. Which is the position that should have been in before the deadline expired.

It is suggested that Solskjaer would like to make to more key signings as United lack depth in some areas, which has been seen by the clubs exit from the UEFA Europa League at the hands of Sevilla after suffering another 2-1 defeat to the Spanish side. It is suggested that a central defender and a midfielder would be brought in, in addition to Sancho, if the club managed to get Dortmund to part company with the player after the supposed deadline expired a week ago.

It has been stated that in the midfield area, both Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira have no future at the Old Trafford club. Both players have been at the club for a number of years and in the past two seasons, both players have not done enough to warrant a place in United’s squad. United will need to have strength in depth at the club and having players that can make a difference will be needed and both Lingard and Pereira have failed to do that when it matters the most.

In defence, United also have a number of players who are not adding much to the squad right now. These players are Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Diogo Dalot. Granted, Smalling has been on loan during the 2019/20 season, playing for AS Roma and there is a chance that the club could permanently sign the defender this summer, although Inter Milan are said to be interested too. Rojo was loaned out in January too. But for Jones and Dalot, neither have been involved much this season.

Solskjaer recently spoke about the summer transfer window, which so far the club have not made a move and will need to do so during the next month in order to have players in at the club before the new Premier League season starts. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it is suggested that United are losing out on £4 million per home match with supporters not yet allowed into stadiums. The Sun quoted Solskjaer as saying:

“I cannot say when or if transfers will be done, but we are looking at it. We have to be 100 per cent sure when we make those deals.

“It’s not about a marquee signing, it’s about quality. The right personality that fits into the group.”

Written by John Walker

Everton interested in signing Diogo Dalot with fullback not in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans

Manchester United fullback Diogo Dalot could find himself heading to Everton this summer with manager Carlo Ancelotti reportedly interested in the 21-year-old Portuguese youth international. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not seem to have any plans for the fullback, even with Luke Shaw on the sidelines for the rest of United’s participation in the UEFA Europa League.

It would also seem that Tim Fosu-Mensah is favoured over the Portuguese player after he featured in the left-back position whilst both Shaw and Brandon Williams were out of action – after all it is a position that Dalot played in at FC Porto before former United manager Jose Mourinho signed the player two years ago. It might seem unfair to some that Solskjaer does not seem to have plans for the 21-year-old.

However, as the player arrived under the plans of another manager, despite being tested sparingly, it does not mean the player will remain in the plans of the manager who takes over from the departing manager. Dalot as been at the club for more than 18 months under Solskjaer, having fewer than five months under Mourinho. His current contract expires in the summer of 2023.

This season though, Dalot has made just 11 appearances for United, scoring one goal – playing a total of 577 minutes on the pitch. The 21-year-old started seven times, coming off the bench four times. Since the restart though, he has featured once against Norwich City in the Emirates FA Cup and was on the bench, albeit an unused substitute, against both Crystal Palace and West Ham United.

In the past few weeks, Dalot had emerged as a target for Barcelona but now The Mirror have suggested that Everton are interested with a possible £10 million fee involved in the transfer. Two years ago, United paid £19 million for the then teenager, so will absorb the loss, if he is sold to Everton for the reported fee this summer. It might not be easy at Everton with Seamus Coleman in the right-back position.

However, it is stated that Dalot could be the long-term replacement for the 32-year-old fullback which would set Everton up for the future. It would seem clear that Solskjaer is not interested in helping to develop the player with Aaron Wan-Bissaka the first choice right back with Williams able to fill in at both fullback positions. Then there is Ethan Laird, a player from the academy, who could rival Wan-Bissaka in the future.

Written by John Walker

Barcelona interested in signing Portuguese defender Diogo Dalot, 21 this summer – reports

Barcelona are reportedly interested in signing Manchester United defender Diogo Dalot this summer. The 21-year-old has fallen out of favour under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after being purchased by Jose Mourinho during his reign of the club. It seems a shame but the player has not been in the best of form when he has been used this season. ESPN has reported the possibility of the Catalan club making a move for the player, which could be good for him.

Dalot signed for United in the summer of 2018 and has a contract which expires in the summer of 2023, so any transfer fee will be in United’s favour, however, if Barcelona are interested in the player, they will claim financial hardship and try to pay a pittance for the player. United will need to stick to their guns. The Catalan club will not be the only club interested if the player is going to be put up for sale this summer. The Portuguese defender, who can play at right-back, left-back and right midfield.

This season, Dalot has made just 11 appearances for United, playing in the Premier League, Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League, scoring just one goal which came against Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup in a match which United won 6-0. During his time at the Theatre of Dreams, Dalot has made 34 appearances in all competitions, scoring one goal and three assists. With Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s arrival last summer and the fact he’s the best right-back at the club, not to mention Brandon Williams’ progress – he can play in both fullback positions, Dalot has been left in the cold most of the time.

United signed Dalot at the age of 19 from FC Porto for £19 million, as reported by The Sun and at the time he was the best young European right-back, which is not something that has continued into first team football. At Porto, he made a handful of first team appearances before United purchased him, many of those from the left-back position. It is not his fault that it has not worked out for him and not Solskjaer’s either. When players arrive under one manager, they don’t always make it under another.

Now that Tim Fosu-Mensah has returned to the first team after a spell on the sidelines through injury for much of the season after two loan spells away from the club, which were not all that successful, it could well be that Solskjaer will fancy him as the stand in for Wan-Bissaka, although he also has Williams, who has largely played in the left-back position as a replacement for Luke Shaw, who is currently injured and missed the last few matches of the season. Dalot was not called upon then so it would seem to be the end of the road for him at the club.

Dalot is a player that could find his feet at a club willing to trust him to succeed. That is clearly not going to happen at United, which could well be a regret, however, United seem to be well stock in both fullback positions in the first team right now and have the likes of Ethan Laird, who can play in all four positions in the back four, and with him being a product of the clubs academy and having bagfuls of talent, Solskjaer might fancy his chances to break into the first team more than Dalot. He gave it a chance at United, it did not work and I think the player will remain humble.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United put six players on transfer list ahead of summer window opening – reports

Manchester United are willing to listen to offers for six first team players as they look to raise money to fund further transfers this summer, also clearing the wage bill to make way for any new faces the club brings in this summer. Reports have suggested that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has seemingly ended the United careers of these players.

United are said to be welcoming bids for Alexis Sanchez, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Diogo Dalot with Solskjaer keen to bolster his squad ahead of an new era at the club, which started with his appointment after the sacking of Jose Mourinho in December 2018. The Norwegian has helped six players out of the door already.

Solskjaer is keen to get United ticking again, like they did in his days as a player for the club, then led by Sir Alex Ferguson, a manager that Solskjaer would like to emulate at the club and could do with full support of the Scotsman. We have seen from recent matches that fast-paced attacking football is the style that he wants at the club.

Solskjaer, albeit temporarily, got rid of Smalling and Sanchez for the current season on loan with the club seemingly interested in ending the careers of the duo at United, if clubs would like to purchase them. Sanchez would be the harder of the two to get rid of because of his high wages. Smalling would like to remain in Italy past this season.

Rojo has not played much football this season and was loaned to Estudiantes in Argentines during the January transfer window with Jones not playing much football at all, being injured since the Premier League resumed last month and possible unlikely to have any further involvement with the club this season.

Lingard has fallen down the pecking order massively as what he has offered the club during Solskjaer’s tenure at the club, and before that, is lacking what is needed from a player representing United and you can see he’s not in the Norwegian’s plans as he has no involvement in matches, last playing against Norwich City in the FA Cup last month.

In regards to Dalot, his United career is two years in the making and it might be harsh to let him go so soon but he’s not going to get past Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the right-back position or either Luke Shaw or Brandon Williams in the left-back role. Solskjaer has used him further forward but that did not work out for him either.

Solskjaer seems to see more in Ethan Laird, who has been training with the first team for a while now, which says more about Dalot. Not every player will make it work at United, especially after coming to the club under the watch of a different manager, who had high hopes for the player. Solskjaer knows what he wants and what he has not got.

It could well be an exciting summer for United, if they can get different clubs interested in these six players, which could clear the way for some new faces at the club this summer and some places in the squad for some of the younger, talented players within the clubs academy, which is the route to success that Ferguson took all those years ago.

Looking at Manchester United’s defensive depth for the 2019/20 season

Manchester United did well during the summer transfer window, adding Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who signed from Crystal Palace and Harry Maguire, who arrived from Leicester City. It was a summer that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needed to pay attention to the defence, which allowed more than 50 goals to be conceded in the Premier League along last season.

Solskjaer spent £125 million; £80 million for Maguire and an initial £45 million for Wan-Bissaka giving some much-needed defensive ability ahead of the 2019/20 season in which United would be tasked with chasing the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, to regain a place in the top four of the league.

United finished sixth last season, five points adrift of a place in the top four, which could have been much different if United managed to beat both Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City at the end of the season. However, hindsight is only fantastic when you look back as if you change two factors, other factors may have had to change also.

Goalkeeper depth; Solskjaer does not need to worry in this area.

Solskjaer has three great first-team options in goal this season; David De Gea, Sergio Romero and Lee Grant. That will be the order of importance in the squad. The club also had the likes of Dean Henderson, Joel Pereira and Kieran O’Hara, who have all been loaned out to Sheffield United, Hearts of Midlothian and Burton Albion respectively.

De Gea will be the go-to guy to start the majority of matches, namely in the Premier League. As for the Carabao Cup, the UEFA Europa League and the Emirates FA Cup, it could well be Romero who features, as he did in the cup competitions last season, other than the UEFA Champions League, of course. Grant could be a shoo-in for matches in these competitions too.

It was hoped that Henderson could have been afforded time in the Premier League this season but with De Gea’s contract being extended by the extra year agreed to in 2015, it was unlikely that he would be the first option in the goalkeeping ranks, however, he will get that Premier League experience he craved for, which might do him some good.

Fullback depth; Solskjaer’s options are much improved this season.

Last season, United’s defence left a lot to be desired. First of all, in the fullback position, Jose Mourinho, who started the season as manager, then Solskjaer had Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Matteo Darmian, Luke Shaw, and Diogo Dalot to choose from in both the left-back and right-back positions. Not a lot of pace, or youth for that matter.

Valencia was on the sidelines for much of the season, leaving the other four to contend for places in the squad. Young was often criticised, as way Shaw. Dalot was too inexperienced, but gave his all and Darmian seldom played. This season though, after the departure of Valencia, Wan-Bissaka arrived and has improved the position greatly.

Both Wan-Bissaka and Shaw will face competition from Young and Dalot, who can both play on the left or the right. Darmian may still play a part despite his future up in the air, although his current contract will expire at the end of the season. The fullback role is looking good for the current season with youth coming through the ranks to add more competition.

Central defensive depth; the strongest defence in six years?

Solskjaer has Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Axel Tuanzebe in his ranks for the current season. There was the rumour of Rojo likely to depart before the closure of the European transfer window at the start of September, but it is just rumour right now. With seven players, there is some depth in this area.

Bailly is injured until the Christmas period, meaning Solskjaer has six players contesting two positions in the squad. Lindelof and Maguire secured the central defensive area in the 4-0 victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford last weekend and will be expected to resume their positions against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday evening.

In case of injury to either Lindelof or Maguire, or the need for rotation, Tuanzebe will be a great option for Solskjaer as he did well during pre-season and learned some valuable things on loan with Aston Villa last season. The likes of Jones and Smalling could also be considered. Rojo not so much, based on pre-season appearances.

The depth of this squad is pretty good, despite the moaning for central midfield signings during the summer transfer window. Solskjaer will have had targets and if it was not possible to sign them, panic buying was just going to create more problems in the future with many players on high wages and unable to be moved on; Alexis Sanchez for instance.

United have many options in different areas; a minimum of three players, counting those already in the first team this season, which are players who have already made their debuts for the club in the recent years. In some positions, United has four sometimes five options, based on my opinion on where they would be able to play in the 4-2-3-1 formation.

This is the formation which Solskjaer has used more often than not, and a formation which will get the best out of the attacking players, using their hunger, determination and more importantly, their pace to launch attacking and counter-attacking plays during matches. Solskjaer’s identity seems to be young, courage and success.

Above, you can see the 4-2-3-1 formation, keeping an eye on the defence where there is a minimum of three players for each position, listed in order of importance to the squad. At fullback, both Wan-Bissaka and Shaw seem to be safe, although the emergence of Dalot could change that, more for Shaw, if he does not improve as he should have.

In the centre of defence, Lindelof and Maguire are certain to start more matches together, fitness and injury aside, but in that instance, there is some depth which could help get United through a difficult time. Tuanzebe, at least for me, is trusted more than the likes of Jones and Smalling; Bailly is at the bottom because of injury at the present time.

If the Ivorian improves his game, he could add more competition for either centre-back, which in turn will inspire players to perform to the best of their ability in order to keep their place. Competition is the best thing to bring the best out of players. This defence could achieve a lot; first of all to ensure they concede fewer than 54 goals this season.

copyright: JW