Opinion

The third Portuguese musketeer of Manchester United - Diogo Dalot

MUSC Red Devils NCR
Dalot has been resurgent for United this season
Dalot has been resurgent for United this season / Visionhaus/GettyImages
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Diogo Dalot has gone through a tough time at Manchester United. There have been up and downs in the four seasons he has been at the club in the wake of being bought in under then kinsmen José Mourinho.

However, in the 2021/22 season, Dalot appears to have dug up some raw confidence at Old Trafford and presently sees himself as the first-choice right-back and the support of Rangnick has allowed him the opportunity to demonstrate his value at Manchester United.

In this player analysis, we will dive into what makes Dalot a fan favourite of a huge segment of fans as well as the current interim coach and probably the upcoming new manager this summer.

The Portuguese was brought in for 18 million pounds from FC Porto, a club that Jose Mourinho has excellent relations with subsequent to winning a remarkable Champions League. Jose's contacts assisted United with finalizing the negotiation for a player who was drawing in genuine interest from the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Atlético Madrid at that point.

Dalot came in as a replacement for Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young and remained first choice for the Portuguese defender's initial two seasons. Mourinho was soon sacked and in came club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who rushed to rebuild his backline.

In his first summer in control, Aaron Wan-Bissaka showed up from Crystal Palace for an eye-watering £50 million pounds - Dalot immediately understood his game time would be restricted and left on loan to AC Milan in January 2020.

Dalot ended up enjoying Italian football with the Rossoneri, making himself a fan favourite with a tremendously talented full-back partner with Theo Hernández - consolidating for 8 goals and 6 assists between them.

Yet again, this season he returned to only be benched as the previously mentioned Aaron Wan-Bissaka kept on starting for Man United however the under-pressure Solskjaer was sacked and after a short spell with Michael Carrick - again being sparingly utilized for three games, in came Ralf Rangnick.

When Rangnick came in, the trust was placed in the Portuguese to make the right-back position his own, and in the next few months Dalot has reimbursed that faith in his on-pitch displays - Rangnick became the catalyst to re-launch Dalot’s Manchester United career.

Dalot is an innately gifted footballer, with the ball at his feet, flair, speed and step overs! Something he appeared to foster well at Milan - then come inside and be ever present in playing in midfield.

He's turned into a skilled ball-carrier, consistently pushing United up the pitch with strong, driving runs from deep in the pitch playing out the advanced role of an inverted full-back, as well as having the option to hold the width.

It is like his teammate Luke Shaw who plays out an identical role on the other flank and his international teammate João Cancelo at City who is best in business for executing this role at an elite level.

One more part of this game we have seen from his time in Milan was his flexibility - adding depth to the left-hand side sometimes returning into the left-back position when Theo Hernández was injured.

Here's a look at some of his stats for the 2021-22 season:


Diogo Dalot's stats for the 2021-22 season in all competitions

Passing:

All competitions:

Appearances: 25
Minutes: 1604
Key passes: 0.7 per game
Average passes: 38.3 per game
Pass completion percentage: 80.8% per game
Crosses: 0.7 per game
Long balls: 2.6 per game
Through balls: 0 per game
Overall rating: 6.76/10

Dalot has shown that he can execute a variety of passes - the capacity to go through his left foot and open passing lanes and potential open plays - particularly better than Wan-Bissaka, who is reluctant or even lacks capacity to execute such passes.

A typical inclination in Dalot's passing is his exceptional capacity to have the attention to switch the play explicitly at the right time, basically the same as Liverpool's TAA.

He's able to make long diagonal passes out of the open space generally making these passes much deeper to help with ball movement – and this is joined with his long passing, - which underscores his reach and his ability find his man from deep.

The developing expectations for full-backs to be incredible creators and this expectation has been strengthened with likes of Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and João Cancelo setting the standard all day every day in the Premier League. Not many satisfy these standards reliably yet Dalot's range of abilities certainly meets the prerequisites.


Defence:

All competitions:

Appearances: 25
Minutes: 1604
Tackles: 2.2 per game
Interceptions: 0.9 per game
Fouls: 0.8 per game
Offsides: 0.2 per game
Clearances: 1.8 per game
Dribbles: 0.9 per game
Blocks: 0.2 per game
Own goals: 0 per game
Overall rating: 6.76/10

Dalot isn't famous for his defense not at all like his colleague Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who is ostensibly viewed as one of the best defensive full-back in Europe.

As a matter of fact, Dalot's ability to defend has been up for debate in ongoing seasons however somewhat recently Dalot has stepped up his ability on the defensive end and has shown more willingness to stay intact in his back-line battles.

One of the defensive ability the Portuguese dominates in is his quality in the air - regardless of being almost the same in height as Wan-Bissaka (180cms), Dalot (183cms) has shown to be far better in the air than the Englishman.

The Portuguese has a 68.8% aerial success rate (2.64 aerials won per ninety) which positions him with one of the best in the business again.

He likewise dishes out a noteworthy 2.56 defensive activities per ninety and a significantly more amazing 1.40 interceptions per ninety - which are the best numbers in his career up until this point. 

Manchester United haven't been a half-decent defensive side this season, eating 40 goals in the Premier League which is extensively more than the other Top six teams around them separated from West Ham who have additionally conceded 39. However, Dalot’s individual defensive performances should not be looked down upon and must be applauded after stepping in the situation of this team currently is in.


Dribbling:

Despite the fact that Dalot doesn't strike the ordinary football fan as an unconventional dribbler, he comes up short on progressively carrying the ball forward, particularly from deep pockets. Despite the fact that he is very exceptional in his passing as referenced before yet this doesn't mean he’s a good carrier of the ball.

His inclination to take on a player and attempt to utilize a stepover has become predictable and has prompted opponents to be better positioned and when to block.

There are obvious deficiencies when he tries to take players on in a 1v1. Despite being known as an attacking full-back, Dalot has never been know for his dribbling and progressing the ball forward.


Conclusion

Dalot is a skilled player but whether that is sufficient to take Manchester United where they need to be is the issue and we’ll only know this with time, particularly in an era where the three best teams in the Premier League have the most talented full-backs in football.

With the consistent game time he has been given under Ralf Rangnick and if he establishes himself well under the new manager this coming summer, Dalot will get an opportunity to show whether he is the long sought-after answer for United's attacking and defensive problems.


Stats courtesy: WhoScored


Written by Kartikeya Sengar for the MUSC Red Devils NCR

IG - Kartikeya


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