Jose Miguel Saraiva provides a scout report which analyzes Manchester United’s new full-back, Diogo Dalot
FC Porto’s achievements last season reflected positively on their players, as the Portuguese champions have been collecting millions this transfer window. However, the unexpected happened when every newspaper in Portugal published, just overnight, that the 19-year-old breakthrough defender Diogo Dalot was on his way to one of the greatest clubs in the world, Manchester United.
Who is Diogo Dalot?
José Diogo Dalot Teixeira is a Portuguese full-back who was born in Braga, on the 18th of March of 1999. Dalot started playing football when he was only 9 years old, in FC Porto, in the season of 2008/09. He stayed in FC Porto until the 2013/14 season, given he played on loan for Padroense FC, a third-tier Portuguese club, in the U17 team, the following season.
In the season of 2015/16 he returned to the ‘mothership’, where he shone in the U17 team, having been promoted to the U19 team, when he was only 16 years old. Diogo made 21 appearances for the U17 team and 8 appearances for the U19 team.
By the time he was 17 years old, in the 2016/17 season, Diogo Dalot showed all his talent in the FC Porto U19 team, which earned him a promotion to the FC Porto senior B team, having already played 34 matches for the U19 team and scored 3 goals.
In the 2017/18 season, Dalot played for 3 different teams: the FC Porto U19 team, the FC Porto B team and the FC Porto A team. He made 8 appearances for the latter, one of them against fellow title contenders Sporting Lisbon, where he played as left-back and performed perfectly, especially when it comes to the defence tasks.
His transfer to Manchester United came as a surprise in Portugal, as it happened overnight and for a sum higher than the one established in the player’s termination clause. However, by then, some of the press had started publishing pieces in which was mentioned that Diogo Dalot’s termination clause wasn’t suited to the player’s potential and the market behaviour. Diogo Dalot’s termination clause was only of 20M €, and Manchester United called it a bargain, leaving FC Porto almost high and dry, as it was reasonable to expect that a player of this quality would be worth at least twice this amount in the future.
What is his Style of Play?
Dalot is a typical full-back and can play both on the left and right sides. He is not the modern-day wing-back (like Dani Alves or Alex Sandro, for example); he is quite the safe full-back, that never (or seldom) makes a mistake in defensive positioning or transitions but can still offer a lot of quality and power in attacking manoeuvres. Dalot is an obviously intelligent player, as it is not usual for a 19-year-old player to position himself so correctly in all moments of the game, whether it is in situations of attacking build-up, midfield ball possession, high-pressure or sitting-deep defensive attitude or even quick attacking or defensive transitions.
The 19-year-old enjoys taking part in the attacking movements of the team, provided he’s got the confidence and the serenity, making use of his physical capacity and crossing ability to help create scoring chances, but without ever compromising the team’s defensive security. He enjoys running with the ball across the whole length of the pitch and either cross to one of his colleagues, which he does with quite a remarkable precision both with the right and left foot, or try to score himself.
Dalot can be both be a player who sits deep in order to stop the other team’s attackers, as well as a player that leads the team forward, conducting dangerous attacks and unbalancing his opponent’s defence position and strategy. Although I believe he is not a wing-back, he sure is a very complete and skilled full-back, that offers the team security but also fire power if and when required.
What are his Strengths?
Diogo Dalot is ultimately a rather well-endowed player when it comes to his physical capacity. He is almost as athletic as a player can get and makes use of his physical strength and pace to cause real trouble on the wings. His large structure (6 ft) does not hinder his ability to move up and down the wing during the whole 90 minutes, on the contrary, it gives him an extra power to do it successfully, by being able to hold the pressure from his opponents.
His crossing ability does not go unnoticed either. Diogo is an expert in the crossing art and has always been a great “assister”, by delivering the ball perfectly to his teammates, creating various scoring opportunities.
His ability to successfully use both his left and right feet gives him an extra set of opportunities, as he can play as left-back or right-back, without any loss of quality. It is rather astounding to witness a 19-year-old grow up and develop so quickly and evidence so much intelligence and maturity on the field, and surely was one of the reasons why José Mourinho wanted to sign Diogo as quickly as possible.
What are his Weaknesses?
Dalot still has some work to do on the decision-making side of his game. Taking long runs up the wing, from one box to another, sure worked when he was playing amongst less gifted players, but it is a whole different level at Manchester United. A good decision-making ability and a clear and clever mind are absolutely essential for a player to achieve good things in the Premier League.
Given Dalot’s intelligence and maturity, he will surely be able to develop this attribute, in order to immediately grab a spot among Mourinho’s first options, which won’t be easy with Antonio Valencia competing for the same spot. He is in the right place to learn, evolve and become the great player we are all expecting to see.
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