Manchester United defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka has enjoyed a stellar rise through the ranks in recent years. The 23-year-old emerged through the Crystal Palace academy before making his debut under Roy Hodgson.
It wasn’t long until he was a full-fledged regular under the former Liverpool manager and before you knew it, Ed Woodward pulled the chequebook out and made him the second arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Old Trafford reign.
Wan-Bissaka is widely known for his defensive prowess but the traditional full-back has improved in the final third of the pitch, having scored his first couple of professional goals last season in games against Newcastle and Southampton.
Ken Gillard, a former youth coach at Crystal Palace, has now opened up on Wan-Bissaka’s development through the ranks at the London club, highlighting him as an ‘interesting character’.
Interestingly, Gillard confirmed that Wan-Bissaka used to play further up the pitch, something Solskjaer had made a point of previously.
“I worked with Aaron right the way my time there,” Gillard told CaughtOffside. “He’s an interesting character, a good player. He started out playing in the forward positions up until he was about 18. He was mostly a left winger or right winger, and then he was converted back to a right-back when he started playing at Under-23 level.
“We had some difficult conversations at times. At times I don’t think he respected what a good player he could be, and wasn’t extremely focused. We had conversations on schooling, which he didn’t take too seriously at the time.
“But he’s a great kid, with a lovely family as well, his Dad was very proud of him when he broke into the Palace first-team and got his move to Manchester United as well. He worked extremely hard to get there.”
Despite improving in the attacking sequences, Wan-Bissaka still leaves a little to be desired in the final third. When pressed on if the young defender could still adapt to being more involved going forward, the answer from Gillard was unequivocal.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “He’s still only 23. He’s still got time to achieve that. I’m sure he’s working on it every day, and there are brilliant coaches there at Man United who can help him with that.
“He’s definitely got the potential, otherwise he wouldn’t be playing regularly at such a big club in those kinds of competitions, the Premier League, the Champions League. It’s been great to see him progress.”