Manchester United’s pursuit of Kieran Trippier is one of the transfer window’s open secrets.
Although chatter about the potential signing has been mostly limited to likelihood and fee, a more pressing question would be, does Ole Gunnar Solskjaer even need him?
Tifo has presented an analysis of both United’s current right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the Atletico Madrid man who is expected to challenge for his place.
It contains a few interesting nuggets about two very different players, while also taking a broader look at the tactical implications of Trippier’s mooted arrival.
Wan-Bissaka’s attacking limitations have been covered – perhaps even overstated – many times. Although nobody would suggest he’s the second coming of Cafu, he became increasingly effective last season, scoring two goals and assisting four.
Tifo make an interesting observation about United’s current righ-back. Despite often having acres of space to exploit, he prefers to carry the ball instead of releasing it quickly.
This tendency to stop and assess his options is seen as a hindrance to the fluidity of United’s attacking play down the right side.
Conversely, making a quick cross into the box is regarded as one of Trippier’s main attributes.
Of the last five assists the England man claimed for Atletico, all five were one-touch passes. No dawdling, no delay, and no time for the defence to set themselves.
In short, he delivers the kind of snappy, penetrative crosses that Edinson Cavani would thrive upon.
There aren’t many revelations about the two players’ contrasting defensive styles. Even in a much less secure back four, ‘Spider-Wan’ has the pace, power, and tackling ability to single-handedly dominate everyone around him.
By comparison, Trippier has the luxury of belonging to a much more solid defensive unit, so can concentrate on shunting his opponents wide, safe in the knowledge that one of three miserly centre-backs will deal with the eventual cross.
Ultimately, this clash of styles boils down to three key points.
Firstly, would the signing herald a change of style, with United using wing-backs and deploying Wan-Bissaka as a third, right-sided centre back?
It’s not an entirely compelling argument, as positional sense has long been one of the defender’s weak spots. It’s an option though and options are always nice.
Secondly, is flexibility of formation the driver behind a move? United have often struggled against a low-block and the former Spurs’ star would add decisiveness and speed of thought, giving Solskjaer the option to rotate his full-backs to suit the opponent.
Finally, how would the signing affect the development of United’s current incumbent? The former Crystal Palace prospect has really improved over the last two years and has got plenty more to offer. Would he be OK with less game time and would Trippier, at 30, be happy to rotate?
All this without a single mention of the Alex Telles effect. Even for those who remain unconvinced by the versatility and attacking impetus Tripper would bring, surely the prospect of United’s current right-back having a seasoned professional to learn from – and compete against – would seal the deal?
Luke Shaw has blossomed with competition, so might United look to repeat the trick this summer?
All the top sides have strength in depth, so the chance to snare a quality alternative in a position of weakness just can’t be ignored.
If the price is right, bringing the England man back home makes sense. After years of illogical transfer moves, the sudden dawning of logic over Old Trafford is overdue but very welcome.