Is Dalot still under-appreciated by fans?

Diogo Dalot with the Players' Player award
[Getty Images]

When the time came for our Manchester United fan writer Dale O'Donnell to nominate candidates for the club's player of the season award, Diogo Dalot's exclusion goes to show that the Portugal full-back may still be under-appreciated by some in Manchester despite an impressive campaign.

When Dalot signed for the club in 2018, he was tipped to play at Old Trafford for at least 10 years by former boss Jose Mourinho. The 'Special One' was sacked just two months later and Dalot struggled to get regular minutes under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

At that point, many would have agreed that Mourinho's praise of Dalot was far-fetched. It is only since Erik ten Hag came to the club and gave the 25-year-old regular game time that he has impressed and re-paid the faith that Mourinho showed in him almost six years ago.

In a season where Manchester United had a league high 45 separate injuries, it is hard to believe that Dalot has played in all but two of their matches, neither of which were missed through injury. The full-back has played on both flanks excellently to help with the injury troubles, after they particularly hit the defence.

It is not easy for any defender to have to play with different personnel at the back almost every week, but Dalot has risen to the challenge and remained resilient and consistent. 'Availability is the best ability' is a phrase that comes to mind when thinking of Dalot during this turbulent season at Old Trafford.

Diogo Dalot statistics compared to Man Utd outfield players: Minutes 1st, Tackles won 1st, interceptions 2nd, assists 3rd, successful take ons 3rd
[Getty Images]

Of course, it is not just about how often you play. How well you play is equally important and the right-back has had the best campaign of his career. He earned a nomination for the Premier League team of the season and the 118 tackles and interceptions he made was only bettered by four defenders in the entire division.

According to Fbref, Dalot has not made an error (defined as a mistake leading to an opponent's shot) in all of 2023-24. The same cannot be said for fellow defenders Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martinez, Victor Lindelof and Willy Kambwala, who have all made errors in significantly less minutes than the Portuguese. It is fair to say that he has been one of, if not the most reliable player in a red shirt this season.

Offensively, Dalot's eight goals and assists is his best return for United and double his output from last season. His overlapping runs beyond the attackers have been more noticeable than ever and are a welcome addition to a United right flank that has so little firepower in the final third.

Dalot's efforts were clearly appreciated by his peers after he picked up the club's players' player of the year award on Thursday, but it seems some fans still need convincing of his true value.

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