Paddy McNair will save Manchester United millions

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Manchester United's decision to hand Paddy McNair a new two-and-a-half-year contract promises to save the Red Devils millions of pounds.

United boss Louis van Gaal opted to play the 19-year-old in an unfamiliar right-back position against Cambridge United in the FA Cup last week - and so impressed was the veteran Dutch coach that he proclaimed McNair could become the club's next permanent right back for the next 10 years.

Considering this was his first appearance at right-back for Manchester United's senior side, Van Gaal couldn't have given the teenager any higher praise for his performance against the League Two outfit.

McNair impressed against Cambridge and Burnley

Despite his post-match comments, Van Gaal dropped McNair back to the bench for the 1-1 draw against West Ham five days later.

Antonio Valencia, bizarrely voted United's Player of the Month for January, came in for McNair and performed reasonably well - but Van Gaal wanted to test out the McNair-at-right-back-experiment once again this week as Premier League strugglers Burnley made their way to Old Trafford.

It was not an impressive performance from the hosts - even Van Gaal admitted as much - but McNair was undoubtedly one of the highlights.

In fact, the Northern Ireland Under-21 international was arguably United's most impressive attacking player on the night - which says everything about how his teammates performed. Happy to bomb forward down the right flank, but always mindful of his defensive responsibilities, this was a performance which must have further convinced Van Gaal that McNair has a future at right-back.

United no longer need Coleman and Alves

It may have even convinced the Manchester United manager that shelling out a fortune on a new right-back is now unnecessary.

Unimpressed by Rafael, Van Gaal has reportedly been on the look-out for a new right-sided full-back for several months now, with Everton's Seamus Coleman and Barcelona's Dani Alves on his radar.

Alves would cost Manchester United a huge sum of cash in terms of wages and agent fees - the Brazilian's contract expires in the summer, so is technically available on a free transfer - while Everton would demand an astronomical fee for Coleman.

The 26-year-old was one of the Premier League's standout right-backs last season, but his performances have dipped this term.

Regardless of that, United would still need to pay a fee in excess of £20 million to bring him to Old Trafford - a huge fee for a player not guaranteed to improve the Red Devils' first team.

Although he is tenacious, impressive going forward and, of course, flavour of the month - Coleman's slight physical frame can often work against him when up against physically-imposing attack-minded players.

McNair still maturing and developing

McNair, thanks to a growth spurt in recent years, looks more like a centre-back than a right-back. He has already surpassed the 6ft-mark and still has another two years of growing ahead of him before he has physically matured.

His versatility was surely one of the primary reasons why Van Gaal was so keen for Manchester United to tie him down to a new contract.

Former United captain Gary Neville even believes this is a player with the talent to play in central midfield.

Phil Jones example must be avoided

But it's important that Van Gaal helps McNair nail down a permanent position, otherwise his career could stagnate - much like Phil Jones has over the past few years.

Sir Alex Ferguson once famously said that Jones had the potential to become the best player in Manchester United's history.

Van Gaal's statement about McNair was far more realistic - he really could be Manchester United's right-back for the next decade.

Do you agree - is Paddy McNair good enough to occupy the right-back spot at Old Trafford for the next 10 years? Have your say in the comments below.

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