Diogo Dalot has had an incredible season, despite a few setbacks, as a report from the Manchester United official site shows.
This season, he made an impressive 41 appearances, a figure that is nearly double the cumulative appearances he has made in every season prior. What is most impressive, however, is the fact that he has emerged as the Premier League’s most successful dueler in his position.
For some reason, Dalot has particularly taken to life under Erik ten Hag. Ironically, he would likely have seen even more game time but for the fact that his rival at right back, Aaron Wan Bissaka, has done the same, creating an intriguing season-long back-and-forth battle for the right-back spot.
Dalot appears likely to have won the longer-term battle, with United having just handed him a long-term contract.
Part of the reason why, no doubt, is the fact that he has stood out in one-on-one duels, winning an incredible 66% of them.
This places him first on the list of the league’s top five duelers, ahead of Joel Veltman, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Kieran Tripper, in that order.
Interestingly, Dalot also outshone his United full back counterparts in other critical areas which might also partly explain why Man United want to keep him around.
The 24-year-old made 54 key passes and contributed an average of 1.71 crosses per game, which is more than any other United full-back did across the season.
Improving on his last-season form, he played 19 accurate passes per game in his own half, up from 15.1 the season before.
Similarly, this season, he’s contributed 18.3 accurate passes in the opposition half per game, an improvement on last season’s 17.7.
Generally, Erik ten Hag prefers defenders who are very comfortable on the ball.
That requirement is particularly strict for full-backs, who he requires to tuck into the midfield when United have the ball.
Ball playing skills such as a healthy passing range and the ability to play key passes from withdrawn positions, are key traits United fullbacks will need to have to fit into his teams.
Dalot is well-suited to playing this role, and if he can become more consistent defensively, he’ll have a good chance of being United’s first-choice right back for the long term.