Aaron Wan Bissaka signed for Manchester United last summer. No-one questioned the quality of the signing, after his tremendous debut season for Crystal Palace. Yet there were a few eyebrows raised at the price tag, and rightly so. £50 million for a young right-back who’s only had one good season under their belt is perhaps overpaying. Then again, clubs will always inflate prices, just because they know it’s United. But he’s silenced any critics or doubters, hitting the ground running at Old Trafford.
The 22 year old is showing maturity and quality far beyond his years. It seems like the Red Devils have finally found their long term successor to Gary Neville. Antonio Valencia was a good makeshift defender for a short period of time. But nowhere near as good as Wan Bissaka.
Gary Neville’s successor
In a tumultuous 2019/20 for United, the Englishman has been consistently good. Minimum 7/10 performances every week, even when he’s against the best wingers in the league. We knew he was talented last season. But now, he’s without doubt one of the best right backs in the league, if not Europe.
“If I’m Pep and it probably goes for any other manager to be honest, just don’t play your winger against Aaron Wan Bissaka”Ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher on Wan Bissaka
People have been comparing Reece James, Trent Alexander Arnold and Wan Bissaka all season long. Because for the first time, England have a surplus of superb right-backs. Yet out of all three of them, the Crystal Palace youth product is the best defender one on one. Even Jamie Carragher confirmed it, after another excellent display against Manchester City where Raheem Sterling could hardly get a sniff.
Aaron Wan Bissaka – Style of Play
Not much has changed about Wan Bissaka from 2018/19, I mean that in a good way. He’s continued to remain ice cool against any winger he comes up against, despite higher expectations at a bigger club and attackers knowing who they’re coming up against now. Maguire, Shaw and Lindelof have had some good games, but also some bad ones. It’s hard to find a game where AWB has had a shocker, or looked completely out of his depth. Solskjaer’s most reliable asset and arguably best signing.
Everyone knows by now the ridiculous tackling output of Wan Bissaka. The Englishman is averaging a staggering 3.8 tackles per game in the Premier League. He never shies away from a challenge and gets it right almost every single time. The only time I’ve seen him get it wrong whilst sliding is giving away a penalty against Watford earlier this season. But other than that, it’s hard to recall many mistakes.
Sometimes he gets criticism for being out of position in the first place, hence why he has to make recovery challenges and causing his numbers to be so high. Perhaps that is an aspect of his game that Wan Bissaka needs to work on. Reading the game better, more awareness and improved positioning will only come over time. Either way, he gets the job done consistently. You could also say it’s a testament to his mentality and sharpness that he can recover so quickly as well as effectively after mistakes. The hallmarks of a strong minded player.
Not to mention, the former Eagles defender is averaging 2 interceptions per game in 2019/20. Constantly buzzing up and down the right hand side, he cuts out passes well, enabling counter-attacks to start so quickly. Partly why Rashford, Martial and Greenwood have been so quick on the break this year. Maguire and Lindelof aren’t afraid to walk out of defence and pass out from the back. The reliability and defensive solidity provided by their right-back you could argue gives them that license. With 1.9 clearances per game, he’s able to cover for them, if they do find themselves out of position.
Room for improvement
The Croydon born defender, as good as he is defensively, still needs to improve going forward. That’s the one aspect stopping him from taking his game to the next level. Though it needs work, it’s not as bad as sometimes made out. 79.9% pass accuracy and 0.8 key passes per game aren’t exceptional stats, but not terrible either. Wan Bissaka does offer something going forward. Yet not as much as Alexander-Arnold for example (2.6 key passes per game).
0.3 crosses per game though, is low. We’ve seen the 22 year old can cross well on occasions. For instance, his assist for Martial against Chelsea a couple of weeks ago. I anticipate these numbers will go up over time, with more experience and time.
Regardless, Aaron Wan Bissaka is proving why he costed what he did. To have such a reliable and consistent performer in defence is any manager’s dream. He continues to be a handful for attackers and a boon for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Gareth Southgate definitely has a selection dilemma ahead of Euro 2020. Well, if it goes ahead…
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