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Opinion: Can Ethan Laird be Manchester United’s future right-back?

With Manchester United’s current right-back options often underwhelming and not up-to standard, one right-sided full-back that has been developing rapidly in the background is 20-year-old Ethan Laird.

Over the last 18-months, Laird has enjoyed fruitful loan spells at MK Dons in League One and most recently at 17th placed Championship side Swansea, where the Englishman started 18 times this season.

However, on Thursday, it was announced Laird would play the remainder of the 2021/22 season at Bournemouth – a side pushing for Premier League promotion, showing how the Carrington academy graduate has developed in recent times.

The move came as a shock to those at Swansea and a huge blow to the Welsh side, with Laird proving vital to the struggling Championship team, recording four assists from the start of the campaign.

Laird is seen as the perfect modern day full-back, something United’s rivals thrive off, regularly providing assists and creating chances.

In the Championship, only four players have completed more dribbles than Laird this season, with those above him being either midfielders or attackers.

Contrasting to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, the loanee is known for his unbelievable attacking ability, with Swans’ boss Russell Martin utilising him as a right wing-back, rather than a traditional right-back in a back-four. This is believed to have been one of the deciding factors in why United sent Laird to the Cherrie’s, who usually operate in a 4-3-3.

After signing for Scott Parker’s side, the youngster told afcbTV: “It plays a big part in my heart, Manchester United, and it always will do, and that’s where I want to be [in the future], hopefully to a good enough level.”

With Wan-Bissaka’s regression and Diogo Dalot’s often uncertain form, many are convinced Laird has everything in his power to become Manchester United’s long-term full-back.

The Basingstoke-born defender has made two appearances for the club, both coming in the Europa League under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against Astana and AZ Alkmaar.

Hopefully after clinching promotion back to the Premier League with Bournemouth by the end of the season, Laird will be wanting to add to his couple of appearances in the famous Red shirt at Old Trafford.

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