We take a look at Manchester United's ongoing issues with finding a first choice right-back.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho
Two games into life at Manchester United under new manager Jose Mourinho, and things are looking rather rosy for the northwest-based club.
The Red Devils have won both of their first two games of the season, scoring five goals in the process – two of which have come through big-name signing Zlatan Ibrahimović – whilst still maintaining the defensive solidity instilled at the club by former manager Louis van Gaal.
A big part of United’s defensive solidity thus far, has been the impressive form of £30 million new signing Eric Bailly – the former Villarreal man picking up the official Man of the Match awards in both of the games he has played in so far.
There is however another part of United’s defence that has received decidedly fewer plaudits, despite still impressing a number of fans immensely in their first two games - the team's make-shift right-back, Antonio Valencia.
Manchester United's Antonio Valencia in action with Bournemouth's Joshua King
Having joined the club as a lightning-quick marauding winger in June of 2009, Valencia has since slowly transitioned from an out-and-out winger, to a now more defensive minded full back for the club.
Despite early concerns regarding his ability to carry out this new role, Valencia has since won many United fans around to the fact that he is now fully capable of playing in his new position, after a succession of impressive performances.
In United’s curtain-raising Community Shield game against Premier League champions Leicester last week, it was Valencia’s cross into the box from right back that was met by the head of Zlatan Ibrahimović, with the goal eventually handing United both the game and the trophy.
Valencia was also a relentless thorn in the side of Bournemouth in United’s first Premier League game, with the Ecuadorian winger offering a constant threat on the overlap down United’s right flank.
Indeed, Valencia’s performances have been so convincing that many are now starting to speculate over the future of fellow right back Matteo Darmian, who has just this week been linked with a move back to Italy.
Having fallen out of favour under former manager van Gaal, Darmian now seems to have fallen firmly behind Valencia in Mourinho’s pecking order.
Manchester United's Timothy Fosu Mensah
Speculation surrounding the Italian’s future has also been fuelled by talk of a new long-term deal for United youngster Timothy Fosu-Mensah – another player to breakthrough under van Gaal last season, capable of filling the right back position.
With Mourinho’s assertion that he will continue to give youth a chance at the northwest-based club, Fosu-Mensah seems almost certain to again receive serious game time at the club this year, cutting Darmian’s already slim chances to almost zero.