Why does Aaron Wan-Bissaka continue to go under the radar?
Background Image Via: Wikimedia Commons/Andre Zahn. CC BY 4.0.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the new Manchester United first-choice right-back. I say it without hesitation, he's the best player the Red Devils have had in that position since Gary Neville. The 44-year-old retired eight years ago...
Antonio Valencia did a solid job, Rafael da Silva will always be remembered fondly amongst the Old Trafford faithful. Several others have filled in at times. The majority have failed. Wan-Bissaka, just one competitive game into his United career is the new benchmark for the 20-time Premier League champions. Why, though, does he continue to drift under the radar?
The former Crystal Palace full-back is probably the best defensive wide-man in the Premier League already. In the one-on-one situation, he's almost unbeatable. He has the speed, the positional sense, the tackling ability and sheer length. His best asset is his impeccable timing, particularly when sliding for the ball. Wan-Bissaka isn't called 'The Spider' for nothing...
His defence-first mindset is certainly one contributing factor as to why Wan-Bissaka is often forgotten about. He's not flashy to watch while his playing style certainly isn't orthodox. The 21-year-old doesn't glide across the turf or look as confident on the ball as a Kyle Walker, nor does he have the flashy delivery of a Trent Alexander-Arnold. United's £50million man is equally as effective, though much rawer than his England compatriots.
Against Chelsea, on his United debut, Wan-Bissaka could easily have been handed the Man of the Match award. On this occasion that honour went to Harry Maguire; the Red Devils' other new toy. Slabhead was an absolute colossus but for me, Wan-Bissaka matched him stride-for-stride. Again, he's just not as glamorous as his new United teammate.
Just look at that inch-perfect slide tackle on Ross Barkley, and the sheer strength he shows to dispossess Emerson before dribbling past the Chelsea left-back. It's sheer class from Wan-Bissaka. The young man has it all. The confidence is flowing after securing his big-money move, while he backed up United's willingness to spend big money on him with an impeccable pre-season tour and an equally impressive debut... Yet when you're down the pub with your pals the conversation tends to be about others.
It's not just domestically either. Kieran Trippier had a shoddy 2018/19 campaign and he still earned caps. Wan-Bissaka continued to get overlooked by Gareth Southgate. It'll be interesting to see if that changes now that he's secured a move to a 'top-six' side though I wouldn't hold my breath. Heck, Ainsley Maitland-Niles may even get the nod ahead of Wan-Bissaka if the Arsenal man continues to trend upwards.
I think underrated is the wrong word. People realise Wan-Bissaka is a top player, he's just not getting the credit equivalent to the performance levels. Again, that may change now that he's moved to a global powerhouse like United, though that'd only give more ammo to those supporters who believe that 'big club bias' is a genuine thing.
My point is that Wan-Bissaka deserves more respect amongst the media. Crystal Palace and now United fans know what a top player, and an event better professional the Croydon-born right-back is. I guess he'll just have to continue to let his feet do the talking, if you knock loud enough, someone will have to answer the door eventually, right...?