Player Focus – Diogo Dalot

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Diogo DaWho? It is always intriguing when clubs pluck out a random player from obscurity and bring them to the limelight, especially when the club in question is as big as Manchester United. The Red Devils have just acquired the services of 19-year-old Diogo Dalot from Porto, for a fee of £19m. This meant that for the past week the internet has been rife with Manchester United fans frantically searching for information on the man, which is hard to come by, considering he’s only played eight professional matches. A virtual unknown, the general consensus by both fans and the media is, who on earth is Diogo Dalot?

Born on 18th of March 1999 in Braga, Dalot was at a local club before being picked up by FC Porto in 2008 when he was 9 years old. He was rising up the Porto academy when he went out to Padroense FC on a season-long loan in 2014, which was fairly successful. He returned to Porto’s youth ranks in 2015 and continued his development as well as being a key part of Portugal’s U17 Euros win, netting in the final. Diogo had to wait until October 2017 to make his mark in the first team, starting in a 6-0 win in the Taca De Portugal, in which he played at LB and registered an assist. He continued to feature for Porto B in both the league and the UEFA Youth League, playing on the right and left of both midfield and defence. This prompted his arrival into Premiera Liga, coming on as a late substitute against Rio Ave in February. Despite being naturally right footed, he was moved to the left to cover for the injured Alex Telles and did so astutely, getting 2 assists in his 6 league games. Dalot also put in a very impressive performance away to Liverpool in the Champions League in his competition debut, keeping Sadio Mane then Mohamed Salah quiet. Despite the few appearances he made, Dalot received a winner’s medal for Porto’s league title win. He suffered a meniscus injury in April which ruled out him for the season, but this didn’t stop Manchester United from getting the hot prospect to Old Trafford, paying Porto a fee of £19m.

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Dalot with the Premiera Liga trophy.

“Diogo Dalot is physically immense: strong, fast, tireless and an excellent crosser. Transitioning to senior level with ease.”
– Tiago Estevao, Portuguese Football Analyst

Diogo Dalot is still in the infancy of his career, so judging his play style is still fairly hard to do. You have to look at this time at Porto B and Portugal youth level and when you do, you discover a tall and marauding fullback who loves to attack but is still defensively sound and quick enough to recover. Standing at 6’0 he isn’t built like your archetypal fullback, but still boosts quick burst of space. This coupled with the height of Dalot makes him a promising proposition for Manchester United. His key strength however, lies in his attacking prowess and his excellent crossing which landed him 4 goals and 10 assists in 37 games across all competitions for club and country. Another key aspect of the Portuguese’s game is his versatility. He is able to play at left back as well as on the right, which no doubt further enticed Mourinho to purchase Dalot. Despite his attacking nature, he has shown his great defensive awareness as in his 8 games across the league and Champions League, as he made 8 tackles, 9 interceptions and was only carded once.

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An infographic highlighting Diogo Dalot’s strengths and weaknesses.

Overall it seems that Manchester United have done well to acquire Diogo Dalot for a mere £19m, a snip in this current market for a young promising player. The fullback has the tools, attributes and quality needed to be a success for both Manchester United and Portugal should he carry on his current trajectory. Dalot also having Antonio Valencia to mentor him is also great for him as the Ecuadorian himself made the transition from midfielder to fullback, as well the obvious plus of him being coached by one of the greatest managers of his generation, Jose Mourinho. It is exciting to see how Dalot adapts to the Premier League but has the early makings to become a top player.

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