Is Italy international Matteo Darmian the best full back fit for Man Utd?
Manchester United’s recent scatter-gun approach to transfers has seen some high-profile stars set up camp at Old Trafford after bold big-money moves.
It appears the days of savvy, prudent and unexpected signings such as Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic left along with Sir Alex Ferguson, with Dutch utility man Daley Blind perhaps the only recent recruit in that value for money vein.
Reports that Man Utd (20/1 with Coral to win the Champions League) are one of three clubs to have tabled bids for Torino and Italy defender Matteo Darmian, with a £12.7m fee for the versatile full back rumoured to have been agreed, could signal a return to such sensible spending, however.
With two other top teams, believed to be Bayern Munich and Napoli, having been confirmed to be seriously tracking the adaptable defender, what is all the fuss about this relatively unknown Serie A star?
Tactically astute Darmian can be deployed anywhere across the backline, and in his youth days could also operate as a defensive midfielder, though Torino have utilised the 25-year-old as a wing back to great success as he racked up four goals and five assists last season.
Red Devils fans are well aware that Louis van Gaal loves an intelligent and versatile player who can bring balance to numerous positions, so signing talented Darmian over the likes of Premier League pair Nathaniel Clyne and Seamus Coleman, or Monaco’s Fabinho, makes sense for a squad riddled by injuries last campaign.
If the Old Trafford club (11/2 to lift the Premier League) are to compete on four fronts defensive depth is key, though Darmian would undoubtedly be arriving as a starter, and should have no trouble competing with spirited but unspectacular Antonio Valencia or injury-prone Rafael to secure the right back berth.
Would Darmian really represent better value than Premier League-proven Coleman, though? While drafting in any player from abroad and expecting them to adapt instantly is always somewhat of a risk, England fans will remember what a torrid time the AC Milan academy graduate gave Clyne from left wing back when the countries clashed in a recent friendly.
Take a peek at what Darmian can offer:
Renowned for his well-timed tackles and anticipation, having begun his carer as a centre half, Darmian can operate reliably at right back and Red Devils fans should expect him to provide more solidity than speedy and explosive Coleman. The Irishman would surely cost significantly more than the mooted fees for his Italian peer, with relatively cash-strapped Torino seemingly not averse to offloading their prize asset.
Perhaps somewhat of a late bloomer at 25, Torino’s tenacious and rapid flank threat is no slouch in the attacking department either, with his experience as a wing back likely to also appeal to Van Gaal, who may feel the need to switch between four at the back and 3-5-2 in the upcoming campaign. Darmian’s acquisition would at the very least provide the Dutch coach with more options and further flexibility.
Having blossomed with the Bull, showing the potential first glimpsed when in Rossoneri youth ranks, the consistent performer has collected 13 Azzurri caps since taking Torino by storm. Quite simply, Darmian is one of those players big clubs would rue missing out on at such a low price, only to fork out twice as much for in future.