Aaron Wan-Bissaka was naturally disappointed when starting the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on the bench in late February.

Wan-Bissaka lined up for both matches against Barcelona in the Europa League prior to that final. His performances were decent and he emerged from the two-legged tie with credit, but Erik ten Hag opted to start Diogo Dalot against Newcastle.

It didn't take long for Ten Hag to question his own decision. Newcastle winger Allan Saint-Maximin was electric from the first whistle and Dalot struggled to get close to the Frenchman, which saw him pick up a yellow card in the ninth minute.

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Newcastle were obviously targeting the right-back and Saint-Maximin drove down that side whenever receiving the ball. The winger's quick feet immediately had Dalot on the back foot and a change at half-time seemed inevitable due to his booking.

Dalot was replaced by Wan-Bissaka at the break and the latter impressively succeeded in keeping Saint-Maximin quiet throughout the second half. His every challenge on the winger was met with roars and it was a reminder of his skillset.

There was another trip to Wembley 56 days later for the semi-final of the FA Cup and Wan-Bissaka was not overlooked again.

Although Dalot has made tremendous progress and his early season performances were laudable, he remains an inferior defender when compared to Wan-Bissaka in one-on-one scenarios and that would have left him vulnerable against Brighton's Kauro Mitoma

Mitoma, arguably Brighton's most creative outlet, was not effective during the FA Cup semi-final and speaking after his side crashed out on penalties, he described his personal duel with Wan-Bissaka as a 'complete defeat' to reporters.

Wan-Bissaka's stock has fluctuated over the years but he's always been respected by his peers. James Maddison took to social media to say he is 'probably the best in the world bar none' in one-on-one battles after the Brighton game.

The 25-year-old has gone from being told he could leave United last summer, to fighting his way back into the starting line-up again and he deserves immense praise for having the character to return from a low point in his career.

Wan-Bissaka was a peripheral squad figure in August and yet he's expected to start the FA Cup final in June. Manchester City have multiple world-class performers and he's the United right-back best equipped to deal with that threat.

It often feels too simplistic to suggest Wan-Bissaka should start in such games, while Dalot should start in matches against opponents who play deep, but that's what Ten Hag discussed in April when he said 'it was close' between the pair.

After the first few months of the campaign, few would have predicted Wan-Bissaka would start an FA Cup final ahead of Dalot. Wan-Bissaka has provided Ten Hag with a choice at right-back and strengthening in that area is no longer a priority.

It's understood Jeremie Frimpong's representatives had been encouraged by discussions with United, but Wan-Bissaka's resurgence has safeguarded his future at Old Trafford and Ten Hag has become happy with his options at right-back.

Dalot signed a new five-year contract on Wednesday and the war between himself and Wan-Bissaka will continue next season. The battle to start in the FA Cup final against City has already seemingly been won by Wan-Bissaka, though.


2023-06-02T04:13:18Z dg43tfdfdgfd