Manchester United have watched on as two more viable right back candidates have made moves in this window.
Tottenham Hotspur have confirmed Djed Spence in a deal worth up to £20m while Jonathan Clauss is set to make an £8m switch to Olympique Marseille, subject to a medical.
Jonathan Clauss will undergo medical tests as new OM player in the morning. Full agreement completed after the opening bid made 10 days ago, Lens have accepted €8m fee. ⚪️🔵🤝 #OM
Manchester United links, wide of mark – he's joining OM. pic.twitter.com/3w4os5vvZN
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 19, 2022
That leaves United lacking quality at fullback, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka an unreliable player in possession while Diogo Dalot has yet to kick on in spite of increased game time last season.
At Ajax, Erik ten Hag had the phenomenal Noussair Mazraoui to depend on in the position.
The Moroccan often got high up the pitch, making underlapping runs which unsettled opposition defences and showing a technical proficiency on the ball far ahead of United’s current options.
He made the switch to FC Bayern Munich on a free transfer after running down his contract.
It could be argued that Ten Hag’s links could have helped secure what would have been a dream signing, although it appears Mazraoui had already committed to the Bavarian giants before United had confirmed their new manager.
In any case, it takes the number of right backs who could have improved United and yet moved elsewhere to three.
It is a fact that leaves one to wonder if the Red Devils have a plan for this position at all.
Shortly after Ten Hag flew to London to discuss plans for United’s summer window, it was heavily reported that Wan-Bissaka would be allowed to leave the club.
However there has been a lack of interest and the best the club could hope for, it seems, would be a loan move.
Even that looks unlikely, with United making no clear moves to replace him.
Perhaps it is a case of getting one out of the door before bringing one in, although if that is the strategy, it appears to be working against the club as the list of viable options dwindles.
It may be that Ten Hag has decided, on further inspection, that he is happy to work with what he has for now, with United’s budget needed to reinforce other positions.
Indeed, Dalot has had a promising couple of halves in pre-season thus far and has taken well to the Dutchman’s demands for underlapping runs.
Wan-Bissaka and Ethan Laird have also featured for a half each, which may suggest that those two will battle to play second fiddle to the Portuguese, with the other going out on loan.
It could also be the case that United simply did not see Spence or Clauss as suitable targets.
With the two players both featuring as wingbacks ahead of a three-man defence, it is possible that the club did not want to take the gamble on whether they could be just as effective in a back four.
That would certainly limit United’s options in the right-back market, with players such as Tariq Lamptey and Denzel Dumfries having similar issues.
Ten Hag’s approach to the midfield, in which he wants the “right player” or no one at all could be relevant here and it is likely that his current focus is on shaping a suitable right-back from the tools at his disposal in the here and now, while keeping an eye on who may emerge from elsewhere.