How often do you see a tall and marauding fullback in football these days?
One who is capable of outrunning a winger with pace on one end, recovering the ball and then dribbling past the opposition fullback and delivering the perfect cross on the other end; all of it with a nonchalance unusual for a newcomer. That, in a nutshell, is Diogo Dalot, Manchester United’s to-be first signing of the season.
Since yesterday evening reports of Dalot to United have been doing the rounds in tabloids including BBC & Sky Sports. Mourinho’s side are reportedly closing in on bringing the Porto ace to the red half of Manchester. The Portuguese U-21 international is understood to have a release clause of €20m (£17.4m) in his Porto contract which expires next summer.
So, who is Diogo Dalot?
Diogo Dalot is a Portuguese professional footballer who started his career with Porto B. He recently graduated into Porto’s first team making 7 appearances in the Primeira Liga in 2017: a season that culminated with Porto winning the league title.
His remarkable rise started with him winning the 2016 U-17 Euros in May 2017 with Portugal. He scored 2 goals in the campaign including his side’s only goal against Spain in the final. Portugal won the game in penalties and Dalot did his bit by burying the 4th penalty.
His performances for the U-17 team earned him a place for Portugal, in the U-19 Euros - the same year, in July 2017. Portugal lost 2-1 in the finals against England. Dalot featured in all the games was also named in the Team of the Tournament.
Dalot primarily plays as a right back but is equally comfortable on the left. He started the Champions League game against Liverpool that ended as a goalless draw at Anfield as a left back and did fairly well.
But he is more versatile than that. He has also played as a right and a left midfielder during the span of his short career. He is gifted with an incredible physique and speed; skills he combines well to get the better of his oppositions.
He is a solid defender who is comfortable on the ball and doesn’t shy to bring the ball out from the back. His decision making is sometimes called into question, but he will learn from experience.
His trademark run down the wings have resulted in quite a lot of goal scoring opportunities. But unusual and Marcelo-esque as it sounds he makes a lot of runs down the centre of the pitch and spreads the ball wide or looks to create an opportunity by playing a 1-2 and moving forward or passing the ball to the forward players.
What next, and when can we see him in a United shirt?
United are reportedly looking to close the deal as soon as possible as there are a couple of clubs interested in his signature. Mourinho has historically preferred completing his transfers before the start of the season. With the Porto ace not heading to Russia for the World Cup, it remains to be seen if Ed Woodward can complete all the formalities before the start of pre-season.
United are due to tour the United States for their pre-season and United fans will surely get the first look at their summer signing during the tour. United are scheduled to play their first game against Club America on 19th July. With almost all senior players from the United squad being named in the World Cup, expect Dalot to get a run of games in the back of a well-deserved and well-earned break.
United will have a gem of a player in their hands who can potentially be among the best of the next generation of fullbacks. Whether he fulfils his incredible potential, only time will tell.Published 31 May 2018, 12:43 IST