As Erik ten Hag approaches the end of his second season at Manchester United under the ownership of Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS, there’s a pressing need to strengthen various areas if the club is to progress rather than regress. However, the emergence of Diogo Dalot has alleviated the urgency to address the right-back position, solidifying his status as United’s primary choice in that role.

Dalot initially engaged in a battle with Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a regular starting spot on the right side of Ten Hag’s defense before the Dutchman took charge in the summer of 2022. Towards the end of his debut season, Ten Hag acknowledged the tight competition between the two players, citing Wan-Bissaka’s defensive prowess and Dalot’s offensive contributions.

However, this season has seen Dalot surge ahead in their friendly rivalry, partly due to Wan-Bissaka’s struggles with injuries. With 31 appearances compared to Wan-Bissaka’s 17, Dalot has not only secured more playing time but has also delivered consistent performances.

Having signed a contract extension until June 2028, Dalot’s future at Old Trafford seems secure, while Wan-Bissaka’s situation is less certain, with United only activating a one-year extension on his contract. This has fueled speculation that Wan-Bissaka, who arrived for £50 million in 2019, could be sold this summer, especially considering reported difficulties in contract negotiations.

While neither player has displayed the quality to elevate United into title contention in recent years, Dalot’s form this season offers optimism. His performance against West Ham showcased his defensive capabilities, exemplified by a crucial block to deny Jarrod Bowen a goal that could have shifted the game’s momentum.

Brought to United by Jose Mourinho from FC Porto in 2018, Dalot represents a £19 million investment that has taken time to mature. Despite Ten Hag’s willingness to offload him to Barcelona in January 2023, Dalot’s resurgence has proven beneficial for United, underscoring the importance of patience in nurturing player potential.

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