Manchester United need to strengthen in several areas at the end of Erik ten Hag’s second season if he’s to progress rather than regress again in his first year under Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS’ rule. But Diogo Dalot has ensured that right-back is no longer a priority position after emerging as United’s clear first-choice option.
Dalot started his battle with Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a regular starting berth on the right side of Ten Hag’s defence before he was appointed as manager in the summer of 2022.
Near the end of his first season in charge, the Dutchman admitted that there was very little between the two amid a selection dilemma.
“I think it’s really close, the competition between them,” Ten Hag explained in April 2023.
“Maybe Aaron gives you a little bit more defending, Diogo gives you maybe a little more offence. But I have to say I think they both have made progress in both areas, so it’s really close.”
But this term – partly due to Wan-Bissaka’s injury struggles – Dalot has more than edged ahead in their friendly rivalry.
The Portugal international has made 31 appearances compared to the former Crystal Palace star’s 17, and he’s producing good performances to match.
Dalot signed a new contract at Old Trafford until June 2028 last year, while United only triggered a one-year extension in Wan-Bissaka’s.
The decision has prompted suggestions that United will look to cash in on Wan-Bissaka, who Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signed for £50million in 2019, this summer.
His contract talks reportedly haven’t been going as smoothly as Dalot’s side, and the 24-year-old cementing his status as Ten Hag’s go-to right-back will have pushed him closer to the exit door.
Neither have particularly shown signs of possessing the quality to turn United into title challengers again in recent years.
However, Dalot’s form this term has offered optimism that he is capable of flourishing in the mould of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Manchester City’s Kyle Walker.