Alex Telles is expected to miss Manchester United’s Champions League tie against RB Leipzig tonight.
According to The MEN, neither Telles nor Victor Lindelof have been seen with the squad arriving at the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate this afternoon and ‘Telles was not visible in any of the training footage or photographs that were released by United from Tuesday’s session at Carrington.’
If Telles is unavailable, it will be a blow to United as his successful integration into the side could prove to be a vital component in the reshaping of the formation going forward.
All eyes were on the signing of a right winger this summer, with Jadon Sancho having been the top target, because that was seen as key to providing the side with more balance.
However, in some ways, the acquisition of Telles may be much more important in terms of the options that he offers due to his style of play.
Telles is not a like-for-like replacement for Luke Shaw, who is a more traditional type of left-back. Shaw’s focus is on defending and he will try to get forward when he can, but it is not where he is at his most comfortable.
The former Porto man is much more attack-minded and is equally comfortable in the left wing-back and left-back roles. His 13 goals and 12 assists in 49 games for Porto last season speaks to his attacking prowess and United fans got a first glimpse in Paris of his ability to put in whipped crosses – eight of them to be exact – in his first hour of football for the club.
Liverpool’s success over recent years has owed as much to their modern attacking full-backs Robertson and Alexander-Arnold as it has to the likes of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk.
One of the reasons that United perhaps struggle against lesser teams and at home is that Solskjaer has had the right personnel for counter-attacking 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations, but he has not had those attacking full-backs that allow for progressive 3-4-3, 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 diamond formations.
Indeed, with current personnel, a 4-4-2 diamond could be a very effective option for United but with a midfield diamond of (say) Matic, Pogba, Van de Beek and Fernandes, marauding full backs such as Telles are vital in order to provide the side’s width.
Much has been made of Donny van de Beek’s lack of starts for the side but having Telles integrated into the side successfully could well be the key to allowing that to happen because it would allow for that type of pattern.
It is to be hoped, therefore, that even if missing tonight, Telles has not picked up any kind of serious injury that would keep him out for long and delay Solskjaer from adding this vital new string to his tactical bow.
This summer’s transfer window has been one of the strangest in living memory. So cast your mind back to less stressful days and test your knowledge of past United arrivals and departures in our quiz below.