Thoughts on Man Utd, Arsenal, Leicester, Diogo Dalot, Antonio Valencia, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Hector Bellerin & Jonny Evans

Hello there, welcome to Thursday. I’m sorry I wasn’t here yesterday, as I woke up far too late and I wasn’t able to even open my laptop before going to work. I know I usually post up here when that happens, but I wasn’t able to login on my phone because I got a new one and was blocked out. That’s something I’m looking into sorting now.

So, what’s going on? Well, Man United announced the signing of Diogo Dalot from Porto yesterday. The 19-year-old right-back moves for around £17m. He has signed a five-year contract, with the option to add another year. I don’t really know anything about him, as not many people seem to, but it’s definitely a signing with the future in mind. Antonio Valencia will be 33 by the time next seasons starts, so Dalot will be a long-term replacement for him.

It remains to be seen how much game-time Dalot will be given next season, as he is really inexperienced after only playing eight times for Porto last season. Wikipedia says he has only played 31 first-team games in his career. I would imagine Valencia will start the season as United’s first-choice right-back, with Dalot providing cover and learning from the experienced Ecuadorian. He could definitely do worse than learn from Valencia.

United are getting their transfer business done early, as this is their second acquisition after they confirmed the signing of Brazilian midfielder Fred earlier in the week. They’re definitely two promising signings, and it’ll be interesting to see what else they do. I would be extremely surprised if they didn’t bring in a left-back as well. I don’t mean a promising left-back for the future either, I mean a left-back that will be coming in as a starter, ahead of Ashley Young. Young did well last season, don’t get me wrong, but an actual left-back playing there would be a big improvement.

Of course, Jose Mourinho does have Luke Shaw at his disposal, who was seen as a really promising young player at one point and was seen as somebody that could be United’s first-choice left-back for the next 10 years. For one reason or another that hasn’t worked out so far, and it looks unlikely that Mourinho will put his trust in him in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if he left in the summer. Could he go to Spurs, with Danny Rose going the other way? That could be a good deal for everybody involved, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

I have seen a bit of a mixed reaction to the news that Stephan Lichtsteiner has signed for Arsenal, with some of their fans thinking it’s a good signing, while others think it’s underwhelming. Some fans of other clubs think it’s hilarious, and think it shows where Arsenal are going that they’ve signed a 34-year-old on a free transfer. Personally, I think it’s a good signing for them. Not a great signing, or an amazing signing, but a good signing.

Hector Bellerin desperately needs some cover and competition out on the right hand side, and Lichtsteiner provides that. I have heard that he is quite fit, and he doesn’t look like a 34-year-old when he’s out on the pitch. As well as cover and competition, Bellerin needs somebody to learn from as there are no senior right-backs at Arsenal apart from him, and he hasn’t really kicked on in his development as much as some would have thought. A man with the experience that Lichtsteiner has is great to learn from for the young Spaniard.

I know it feels like Bellerin has been around for years, and he has, but he’s still just 23. He has plenty more developing in him and he can still reach his potential. He hasn’t been at his best in every game he’s played, but he hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as some would make out either. He seems to get targeted by some people, and that gives off an impression that he has been really poor. Is he targeted because people don’t like his hair and his fashion sense? I don’t know, but it can be extremely unfair criticism at times.

I’ll agree that Bellerin hasn’t quite played to the level he can, but I think that’s to do with other things, and it’s not all on him. There were plenty of games last season when he basically had the whole right-wing to himself. Mesut Ozil would cut inside, and he wasn’t often there for Bellerin. When Bellerin got into an advanced position, he would often have to cut back because there’s nowhere else to go. Of course, he could have swung crosses in, but it’s unlikely that Alexandre Lacazette is going to beat a centre-back in the air, so Bellerin would opt to keep the ball instead of playing it in.

The same can be said when the opposition are attacking. Mesut Ozil didn’t always make lung-bursting sprints back to help Bellerin out when he was being put under pressure, and Bellerin often found himself exposed. There’s only so much you can do when you don’t have any support, and Bellerin was caught out more than once. Maybe this is something that Unai Emery can help with, as he will surely be trying to protect his defence more than Arsene Wenger did. Bellerin could be somebody who could really benefit from the change of manager.

There were reports yesterday that Jonny Evans will move to Leicester after his relegation clause was met. There were stories saying that if West Brom were relegated, which they were, then a clause would activate in his contract allowing him to move for £3m. Now, Leicester have reportedly decided to pay that and will sign the Northern Irishman. I think this could be good business by Leicester, as we have seen on more than one occasion that Evans can be a solid defender.

His leadership skills have a question mark over them, as he was one of the four West Brom players to have allegedly stolen a taxi while on a West Brom warm-weather training camp, which is something you definitely don’t want your captain being involved in. He will be a good addition to Leicester’s squad though, especially with the low price tag. I’m not sure he’s good enough for Arsenal or Man City, as reports back in January suggested that they were both interested in signing him, and he would probably be a squad player at either of those.

At 30-years-old, he is a good age for a centre-back. He has plenty of experience, while also having plenty of years left of playing in him. There’ll be much worse players bought for a lot more than £3m in this transfer window.

Anyway, that’s it for this morning. News will be on Twitter throughout the day, and I’ll be back tomorrow with more. Have a good Thursday.

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