It might’ve taken just over a month following the shambolic end to last season, but it seems Manchester United have finally secured the services of one of their main transfer targets.
On Friday afternoon, the Red Devils announced the signing of Crystal Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a fee of around 50 million pounds. All in all, it’s an excellent bit of business for United, who have got a player that could be a crucial part of the team for years and years to come.
Finally fixing the right side
The biggest thing about this signing is that United will no longer have to resort to playing Ashley Young at right back. The experienced Englishman was able to do the job in the past, but he became a liability under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this past season.
There wasn’t anyone on the roster who could replace him either. Club captain Antonio Valencia was expected to be the starter going into the campaign, but nagging injuries effectively ruled him out for the entire season. Matteo Darmian was once a starter for Italy at international level, but he never got a fair chance in the team, and will likely be sold in the coming months.
Portuguese younger Diogo Dalot was Young’s usual backup, but his defensive inexperience saw him pushed further forward in big games.
Now, with Wan-Bissaka, United have a guaranteed name on the teamsheet for the foreseeable future. He was a star for Palace this past season and was one of the best right backs in the entire Premier League at just 21-years of age.
AWB, which is the nickname fans have given recently, is a defensive Starwalt that can shut down almost any opposing winger on the planet. He’ll only get better with time, so there’s a good chance Wan-Bissaka could be the starting right back at Old Trafford for the next decade, if not longer.
Defensive cover for all
Wan Bissaka’s ability defensively will help his teammates gain some much-needed freedom and peace of mind out on the field.
With Young, United had to constantly worry about him at the back. Centerbacks were focused on opposing wingers instead of central strikers, and midfielders had to drop deep and offer support, limiting their ability to create plays on the other side of the field.
Even the Man U attackers suffered. The Red Devils got little input from their right wingers throughout the season, and Young was a key reason why. Having to drop back consistently, whoever was out on the right-hand side was out of position whenever United got the ball back.
They didn’t get much support on the overlap either, so the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard were forced to dribble past several defenders at a time, which usually only caused turnovers and frustration.
With AWB now back there, United will once again have someone they can trust to handle their defensive assignment.
A sneaky attacking option
However, do not let Wan-Bissakas quality defensive instincts blind you from the fact that he’s a threat going forward as well.
He wasn’t allowed to venture up the pitch much with a defensive minded Palace side, but he usually made the most of his trips down the wing when he got the chance to. AWB did only register three assists without scoring a single goal, but his contributions are more than the stats show.
He drives the ball forward, and his directness causes chaos in the final third of the field as opponents try to figure out who has to cover him. That opens up space, and Wan-Bissaka can pick out a cross if he’s given too much space.
At the very least, he cannot be as bad as Young, who couldn’t pick out the back side of a barn door at times.
Just the start
Signing Wan-Bissaka is a brilliant bit of business, but it should just be the start for Manchester United. There are still a number of weaknesses with the team at the moment, and AWB won’t solve all of them. More reinforcements have to come in soon, but it’s good to see that the ball has started rolling at Old Trafford.
The transfer window closes in less than two months, and the Red Devils will have to make the most of the remaining time if they want any chance of competing for silverware in the upcoming season.