Aaron Wan-Bissaka is undeniably Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first choice at Manchester United and is comfortable dealing with the competition Diogo Dalot provides. There is, however, another right-back in town capable of challenging.
Manchester United youngster Ethan Laird impressed in his six-month spell at MK Dons last season and took the step up from League One earlier this year, with Swansea deciding to draft him into their side after narrowly missing out on promotion to the Premier League.
Laird has already made his first-team debut under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but he has now set his sights on claiming a permanent spot in the senior side as he continues to impress for the Welsh club.
“I am trying to go to the top with Man United, this helps,” Laird told The Athletic. “Stepping stones, you know. Man United like to have the ball and be fast on the attack and that style of play is implemented at Swansea.
“Their success affects me, so I want them to do well. I keep tabs on them. That’s a step that I can’t wait for because I believe in myself that I can do it. But I need to show it.”
The 20-year-old has made 15 appearances for Swansea in the Championship this season, assisting three times already. Furthermore, he is yet to receive a yellow card.
One of those three assists was particularly impressive – he played a huge role in Swansea’s win at Coventry earlier this month as he danced through the opposition’s defence.
SN’s verdict on Laird’s rise to the first-team and Wan-Bissaka’s future…
As things stand, Wan-Bissaka remains Solskjaer’s long-term option at right-back but should Laird continue to develop at this rapid pace, the Norwegian will be left with no other choice than to promote him to the first team.
There are questions over Dalot’s future at the club – the Portugal international has less than two years remaining on his contract and has been linked with a move to Italy.
Instead of going out in the market to replace Dalot in the event of his departure, there is a perfectly able replacement waiting in the wings – plus he’s an academy graduate.
Solskjaer has been reluctant to use academy players in the past, with only Mason Greenwood properly breaking through into the senior team. Others have been handed debuts and the odd appearance.
Wan-Bissaka is clearly superior to the majority of right-backs defensively but Laird holds the upper hand at the other end of the pitch.