Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has told the club’s official website that he believes Paddy McNair could become the club’s first-choice right back for the next decade.
McNair, 19, made his first-team debut at centre-back in September’s 2-1 Premier League win over West Ham United after a spate of injures hit the team’s backline, and has since gone on to make 11 further appearances.
Having come up through the club’s ranks as a central midfielder, the Northern Irishman added a further string to his bow in mid-week with a performance at right-back in the 3-0 FA Cup win over Cambridge United which saw him voted the fans’ man of the match.
Van Gaal was more than impressed with his contribution on the night, and now believes his future could well be on the right-hand side of defence.
“It is not only Paddy McNair who has impressed with his development, as I have given a lot of chances to younger players,” he said. “But Paddy McNair has developed himself very well, not only as a central defender but now we are giving him the chance to develop as a full-back and he did it very well.
“He has done it already in the second team [Under-21s] and has done it now at a higher level in the first-team.
“Maybe he shall be the right full-back of Manchester United for the next 10 years, you never know. He has the chance.”
McNair himself has suggested he’d be more than willing to make the permanent switch to full-back, adding: “I actually enjoy getting forward. It was a bit different. I played there for the Under-21s and I played there for the first time [in the senior team] against Yeovil in the second half. It was good to play there.”
While it remains to be seen whether Van Gaal will indeed keep McNair at the position moving forward, his comments would seem to be bad news for Antonio Valencia and Rafael, who have both flattered to deceive under the Dutchman so far.
The club have also been linked with the soon-to-be out-of-contract Dani Alves this week, per Sport, but it would be much more pleasing if one of their own homegrown products could make the role his own over the coming seasons.