Most Man United supporters would agree that, if injury was no issue, Rafael would by now have claimed the right-back position as his own. However, the Brazilian has become prone to niggles which have hampered what was otherwise a blossoming career.
Van Gaal eventually ran out of patience with Rafael last term and often left him out of the squad. Sadly there can be no room for romanticism here and a new right-back is a must if United are to challenge on all fronts next season.
Not beyond the realms of possibility, Real Madrid’s Carvajal would be many United fans’ first choice for the role. The 23-year-old is widely regarded to be as one of the world’s most talented right-backs, and with David de Gea widely expected to leave United for the Spanish side, van Gaal may be keen to use Carvajal as a sweetener in any potential deal.
Carvajal has shown for some time now that he is an exceptional player. His tackling, passing, awareness and determination are all second to none.
As a player that likes to dribble, however, the young Spaniard may have to tweak his game to fit into van Gaal’s philosophy. The experienced coach is very particular on who is allowed to take risks in his teams.
Carvajal is excellent both offensively and defensively. If he can be persuaded to make the move to Manchester, United may have acquired a player who could potentially cement the right-back position for the next decade. Angel di Maria’s move to United shows that Madrid are not afraid to part with their star players and Danilo’s recent transfer from Porto may persuade Carvajal that he needs to find himself a new club.
Currently plying his trade for Torino in Serie A, Matteo Darmian offers a different option to the players United have been linked with this summer. At 25-years-old, he is still young enough to make the move abroad and flourish in a different league.
Darmian has often shown he has what it takes to command a starting spot for a much bigger club than Torino. His passing, tackling and tracking back, in particular, make him a valuable asset. And with four goals and assists in all competitions last season, the full-back is not afraid to go forward as well.
Despite this, there is room for improvement in the Italian’s game. His crossing and long-balls are occasionally misjudged which wastes possession for his side. However, the player is young enough to improve these aspects of his game and there is no better teacher than van Gaal. Darmian only needs to look as far as Luke Shaw for evidence, who when fit last season has put in some excellent performances for United.
As Darmian does not currently play for a top club, United may be able to sign him on the cheap. They may face competition from German champions Bayern Munich so they will need to act fast if they want to bring him in.
Clyne showed last term that he is an assured right-back, with his defensive discipline and ball retention contributing to Southampton’s solid defensive displays this year. Such qualities suggest the 23-year-old would have no trouble fitting into Louis van Gaal’s developing United side, which is geared towards possession-based football.
However, there exists the issue of negotiating a transfer with Southampton, who after another strong season will be reluctant to sell their best players.
Clyne offers a strong option at right-back and proved last season that he has all the raw ingredients to take his game to the next level in the coming campaign.
Any one of these three players would be good choices for United if they are hoping to sort out the right-back spot for years to come. Dani Alves has also been linked to United in recent weeks but the Brazilian ended the speculation by signing a new contract with Barcelona on Tuesday.