Manchester United need to solve right-back problem

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Football News

Since the retirement of Gary Neville in 2011, there has been a void on the right side of defence within Manchester United's back four.

Even during the latter stages of Neville's career, there were times when stopgaps had to be used due to serious injuries, such as the 07/08 season, when Wes Brown had to deputise the position, and ultimately helped the team win the Champions League. However, not all stand-ins or potential replacements have been as successful.

Rafael was given more than his fair share of football during his stay at Old Trafford from 2008-2015, and although his attacking threat improved over the years, his rashness in a tackle and defensive lapses cost him, and Louis van Gaal did not see enough to give him the full-time position, subsequently selling him to French side Lyon.


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Valencia originally thrived as a right winger, with his directness and ability to always get a cross in the box well received by fans, but after breaking his leg in September 2010, he failed to live up to the bright moments of his early United career.

Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, and Van Gaal have all employed Valencia as a right-back, which like Rafael has been a mixed bag. He has always offered a good out ball, but the defensive positioning is that of an attacking player and it cost United numerous times.

United currently have a couple of options within the squad, Valencia is likely to feature there again next season, particularly when United are chasing a goal.

Matteo Darmian was bought last summer for quite a substantial fee, and initially started off brightly, but repetitive injuries and subsequent poor performances have made it questionable whether Mourinho would take the chance on him, especially with the constant rumours of a return to Serie A.

The arrival of Eric Bailly appears to have ended the centre-back pairing of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, largely due to the amount of injury issues Jones has had over the last two season.

There is a possibility Jones could feature at right-back, but as the modern day full-back needs to be equally as adept at attacking as he is defending, then this is unlikely to happen unless Jose Mourinho can manage to get something out of Jones which he also managed to get out of Branislav Ivanovic.

With Guillermo Varela being out of favour for the latter end of the season due to a run of disappointing performances, it may allow Timothy Fosu-Mensah to thrive, with the Dutch defender becoming a crowd favourite at Old Trafford after a run of solid performances, particularly in the 3-2 victory against Arsenal back in February.

The gossip columns have been running the story of there being a potential reunion for Mourinho and Cesar Azpilicueta, who has been considered among the elite right-backs in the Premier League since his arrival from Marseille in 2012.

A consistent performer, who is good going forward, as well as being one of the best defensively, it appears to be a good option if he is available. 

It remains to be seen if new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte would be willing to part with the player, especially to a rival club, but if there is an option for United to buy, then it seems like it would be a very logical move.

Mourinho is heavily expected to be busy in the transfer window, and one position he must strengthen is the right-back area.

Who should Manchester United sign at right-back this summer? Let us know YOUR suggestions in the comment section below!

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Wayne Rooney
Manchester United
David de Gea
Premier League
Ryan Giggs
Cristiano Ronaldo
David Beckham

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