Antonio Valencia has made the right-back spot position his own at United in recent seasons. Initially a reluctant full-back after his days of a flying winger, Valencia’s form had led to him wearing the armband on the pitch, underlining his importance and status within the squad.
Old Father Time waits for no man though and Valencia’s form has dipped as this season has progressed. It is anticipated that United, in similar fashion to their neighbours last summer, will revamp both full-back positions as part of their plan to get closer to City next season.
So, should Valencia’s neck be on the chopping board, who should United be looking at to stand to the right of David De Gea?
We give you five names to mull over:
ONE OF OUR OWN- Timothy Fosu-Mensah
The Dutch youngster was Valencia’s understudy last season and possesses similar qualities to the Valencia in his prime: Tim is strong, quick and forward thinking. His versatility should mean he plays at least a role in Mourinho’s squad next season. Fosu-Mensah has been classed as Leroy Sane’s toughest opponent this season, a season which has seen the young German scorch the turf with his pace and incision. In their two meetings, Sane has had no change from Fosu-Mensah. In the midst of a relegation battle, Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has tended to lean on more experienced campaigners but Fosu-Mensah has still had good reviews for his performances.
AN OLD FLAME- Seamus Coleman
The Everton full-back has widely been held as a potential United full-back since becoming one of the most consistent Premier League defenders of his kind. His progression was cruelly decimated by an horrendous challenge on international duty, leaving Coleman with career threatening injuries. He emerged on the other side and is now getting a solid run back in the Everton team and showing signs he is getting back to his best form. He has energy to burn and always had those natural attacking qualities. There are no real defensive weaknesses to his game and would not require any time to adjust to the ferocity of the Premier League.
ACROSS THE CHANNEL- Djibril Sidibe and Thomas Meunier
Sidibe is gathering a lot of column inches alongside the name of United. His employers, AS Monaco, have become notorious for making names and selling them for substantial profit. Sidibe would be no exception. His form for the principality has led to him becoming part of Didier Deschamps’ French setup, particularly the six assists he has registered in Ligue 1 to date this season. He is known for his attacking play, with his crossing, maybe for Romelu Lukaku, a particular strong point. Sidibe seems disciplined, only collecting four yellow cards this season and winning 1.8 aerial duels. He is also versatile, figuring beyond his usual slot occasionally in midfield but also at left-back. Monaco’s history of selling makes a deal possible.
Meunier was always going to be faced with a gargantuan task of dislodging the evergreen Dani Alves in the French capital this season and it’s fair to say it has harmed his chances of going to the World Cup with Belgium. Meunier is of the old school variety, generally playing simple passes but still tends to support the attacks. His case is strengthened by meeting Mourinho’s over six foot criterion. It is a case though which does not scream compelling and would appear to be an outside shot.
THE DREAM ONE- Dani Carvajal
Dealing with Real Madrid is dicey, which makes this one nigh on impossible. Carvajal relishes the dirty side of the game so to speak, with his discipline, or lack of, equating to ten bookings and 1 red this season. However, his consistency and reliability have seen him become Real’s undisputed right-back and he provides not only defensive solidity but terrific attacking assistance. A showcase of this attacking talent was providing the inviting cross for THAT Ronaldo overhead kick that was too tempting a cross to spurn the opportunity. A mainstay for Madrid and the Spanish national team gives you an idea of his qualities. This one is as unlikely as a Gerrard Premier League title.
Who would you like to see as United right-back next season? Let us know in the comments below.