Manchester United have delved into the transfer market early by signing midfielder Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk and Diogo Dalot from Porto. Getting his transfer business done early will please Jose Mourinho as he begins constructing a squad to challenge Manchester City for the title. With Fred expected to start as one of the three midfielders, the future of Dalot is one of great discussion. Will he walk into the starting eleven or will Antonio Valencia hold onto his spot?
At just 19 years old, Manchester United have signed a player for the future. He may be somewhat of an unknown entity to many as he has just six league starts for Porto’s first-team set-up side. However, he has significantly impressed playing for their B side in LigaPro and even managed to find the back of the net twice.
Dalot is a competent player and was part of the side who won the European Under 17’s tournament in 2016 for Portugal. His contribution was so good in that tournament he was named in the team of the tournament alongside other English based players Dujon Sterling of Chelsea, Reiss Nelson of Arsenal and his new teammate Tahith Chong. He even impressed the following summer in the under 19s tournament being named in the team of the tournament again.
It is clear that the Braga-born player has the potential to succeed. Like any modern full-back these days he has an abundance of pace, as full-backs are expected to rampage up and down the wing. However, he has defensive capabilities as last season he won eight of his ten attempted tackles and made nine interceptions playing for the first team.
So what does that mean for Valencia? The Manchester United captain was converted to a full-back under Louis Van Gaal and has prospered in his new position. The Ecuadorian is a fan favourite having been with the club since 2009 and always gives everything for the Red Devils. Some would argue he is the best right back in the league, but that is up for discussion as several right-backs could take that title.
At the age of 32, 33 in August, Valencia is heading into his final years as a professional footballer at the highest level; as fullbacks hit their prime around 26/27 years of age. However, there are no signs to suggest Valencia is retiring or leaving Manchester United anytime soon as he contributed to 14 clean sheets, three goals and one assist last season. He works tirelessly down the right-hand side for his teammates.
With the signing of Dalot, Valencia can take him under his wing and make him feel comfortable in his new surroundings, embedding him into the Manchester United way of life. Dalot will not be expected to replace Valencia straight away, but over the course of the season, it would be expected that he will be pushing the United captain all the way for a spot in Mourinho’s starting XI.