The right-back position is one that has been giving Erik ten Hag headaches ever since he arrived at Old Trafford. While both Diego Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are solid enough players, neither is of the level to be a regular game-changer from that position like Trent Alexander-Arnold is for Liverpool, for example.
Indeed, it appears Man Utddon’t really know what to do with the pair. Dalot and Wan-Bissaka have at various times been dropped from the first team before ultimately being reinstated. Sometimes they’ve impressed, while at other times, they’ve been nothing short of dire.
Dalot was handed a new deal last year, while talks over a fresh contract for Wan-Bissaka remain ongoing, yet it is difficult to imagine that the new Man Utd hierarchy will settle for their mediocrity for much longer. With Jeremie Frimpong also being courted by Arsenaland Liverpool, the Red Devils could miss out on one of their right-back priority targets in the summer, meaning that every possible alternative must be considered.
Is Gray the answer?
Gray comes from a family of Leeds greats and has been with the club since childhood, complicating a move to Old Trafford given the historic rivalry between the two clubs. In fact, FootballTransfers already exclusively revealed that Man Utd fear being snubbed by the teenager because of this.
Yet Man Utd must try to make the impossible possible. The funds provided by Sir Jim Ratcliffe in the summer could help to achieve that, though the Red Devils must be wary of not overspending again on a player, especially someone as young as Gray, who has just penned a new long-term deal.
That said, what he has shown so far this season certainly suggests that he will be worth the money. As FootballTransfers previously explained, Gray has had a stunning impact at Leeds, having been given his senior bow by new boss Daniel Farke this term.
The 17-year-old has been a regular for the Championship promotion-chasers and while his contribution from right-back has not been quite Alexander-Arnold-esque – he only boasts one assist so far this term – his overall play certainly has.
2023/2024 | Championship (ENG)
Right back (1530 Minutes played)
2023/2024 | Premier League (ENG)
Right back (1594 Minutes played)
Farke hosted his former side Norwich City on Wednesday and Gray again stood out as one of the best performers on the day. Given that, like Trent, Gray is used to featuring prominently in midfield, the youngster was comfortable with inverting to help Leeds overload central areas, causing Norwich all kinds of problems, particularly in the first half of the match.
The main criticism of Gray is that he needs to brush up on his offensive play to become an elite right-back. Defensively, the youngster is sound and he showed that late in the game when he made a potentially goal-saving challenge on Norwich striker Adam Idah. Offensively, however, he did not contribute enough despite taking up great positions throughout the game.
However, he again illustrated just what a special talent he is and why Man Utd and Liverpool are keen on him. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, however, already have Conor Bradley, who again put in a very solid shift against Fulham on Wednesday, so they would be silly to spend big money on Gray.
United, on the other hand, would be well advised to try to make the impossible possible and sign the golden boy of one of their biggest rivals.