What Went Wrong With Aaron Wan-Bissaka At Manchester United?

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On Monday morning this week Aaron Wan-Bissaka reported back for his first day of pre-season training at Manchester United.

While this heralded the start of his fourth season at the club, it is highly unlikely the right-back will actually play for United in this campaign.

It is understood Wan-Bissaka has been informed that he is not part of new manager Erik ten Hag’s plans, and the club are willing to listen to offers for him.

At the moment, Wan-Bissaka is biding his time, and waiting to see what offers he receives during this summer’s transfer window.

There could be an opportunity to return to his former club Crystal Palace, who left to sign for United in the summer of 2019.

The south London side retain an interest in welcoming him back, but would not be prepared to match his weekly salary estimated to be around £ 90,000.

Palace would be more interested in taking him back on a season-long loan, whereas United would prefer he left on a permanent basis.

At the moment Diogo Dalot is United’s first choice right-back, while the club hopes to attract a reasonable offer for Wan-Bissaka.

This represents a significant fall from grace for Wan-Bissaka, who made a bright start to his United career after they paid £ 50 million for him three years ago.

United let it be known their scouting department had looked at a total of 804 right-backs across the world before deciding on Wan-Bissaka.

This initially appeared to be an astute piece of business with Wan-Bissaka impressing during his debut season.

When the Covid-19 pandemic stopped football in March 2020, up until then he had arguably been the club’s most consistent performer.

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He had earned the nickname of ‘The Spider’ at Crystal Palace for appearing to have more than two legs and being almost impossible to get past.

He brought these qualities to United, where he established himself as the best defensive full-back in the Premier League. No matter how hard they tried, a succession of attackers could not get past the agile and athletic Wan-Bissaka. By the end of the season he had amassed 129 tackles, the most in the Premier League.

Wan-Bissaka performed well in his second season, but there was also a growing frustration with his attacking game.

When United signed him there had been an acknowledgment he needed to improve this part of his game, but it failed to happen, and the player did not develop in the manner the club’s coaches had expected.

While he remained defensively strong, albeit with a tendency to get caught out of position from crosses, he never offered enough going forward.

In the modern game so much more is expected of full-backs, they have become playmakers, who significantly contribute to attacks.

In comparison to Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Chelsea’s Reece James, Wan-Bissaka began to look old-fashioned and one dimensional.

Over the course of their Premier League careers Alexander-Arnold has 45 assists in 161 games, while Wan-Bissaka lags behind on 11 in 131 games.

In the summer of 2021 the former United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was interested in replacing Wan-Bissaka with the more attacked-minded Kieran Trippier, but was unable to lure him away from Atletico Madrid.

Last season Wan-Bissaka’s struggles became more pronounced, and he featured in just 20 of United’s 38 Premier League games, and was ultimately overtaken by Dalot.

Before he was sacked in November Solskjaer had seemingly lost faith in him, and his interim successor Ralf Rangnick was also less than impressed.

It is not known what Rangnick said to Ten Hag in their handover talks last month, but Wan-Bissaka’s future at Old Trafford looks bleak.

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