The red half of Manchester is brimming with confidence and excitement after the captures of Schneirderlin and Schweinsteiger. Yet looking at a fully fit United squad, one can’t help but notice that the aforementioned players don’t seem to be plugging any glaring holes in the starting lineup. While the two of them are outstanding players and a great addition to the team, a fully fit squad boasts the likes of Herera and Carrick – two players that are capable of occupying the two midfield spots for the next season.
On the other hand, the relatively unknown Darmian puts an end to the makeshift full back position that United has been struggling with since the retirement of Gary Neville. Players like Smalling, Jones, the Da Silva twins, Paddy McNair and Valencia have all failed to impress in recent seasons. Darmian is a gem in LVG’s eyes as he offers him something not many other players do – tactical flexibility. He can play as right back in a 4-4-2 formation, right wing back in LVG’s favoured 5-3-2 formation and can even cover at left back which would keep the like of Shaw and Blind on their toes.
Defensively, he is genuinely stronger and more capable than most of his peers. He started off in Milan as a centre back and learned his trade from greats such as Nesta and co. Since switching to the full back position, his defensive upbringing was clear to see. He is a great tackler and is positionally and tactically very aware. He would naturally close down the space in the box when the ball is on the other flank and would rarely be seen ball watching – a weakness that Liverpool fans will have to get used to in Nathaniel Clyne.
Offensively, he also fits LVG’s philosophy. Darmian is a ball playing defender, very fast with the ball and can find an attacker with an accurate cross that was found lacking last season. Attacking with full backs requires teams to stretch the defence on both sides to give the attacking full backs the space for overlaps – think of Kolarov and Zabaleta, Alba and Alves. With Shaw on the other flank – a player of the same mould as Darmian – United fans should expect to see their team breaking down the opponents with marauding run after run from their full backs in support of their pacey wingers in Depay and Di Maria.
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