If there were any lingering doubts about Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s future, Erik Ten Hag seemed to answer them definitively during Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League win at Fulham. Just not in the way Manchester United’s £50 million forgotten may would have hoped.
With Diogo Dalot suspended, and therefore unable to continue his remarkable run of starting every game in all competitions this season, this felt like the opportunity ‘AWB’ was waiting for.
That Ten Hag eventually chose to field the left-footed Tyrell Malacia out of position on the right then, rather than hand Wan-Bissaka only his second appearance of 2022/23, seemed to confirm his status as ‘yesterday’s man’ at Old Trafford.
“We did it (playing Malacia on the right) several times in training, and in some games where Tyrell replaced (Dalot) and did quite well,” Ten Hag tells the Man United website following a hard-fought victory in West London, one secured thanks to Alejandro Garnacho’s wonderful stoppage-time finish.
With The Sun claiming that Man United will not stand in Wan-Bissaka’s way should he wish to depart in the January transfer window, Malacia’s inclusion on the right-hand side at Craven Cottage had a ‘final straw’ sort of feeling about it.
Yes, Wan-Bissaka only recently returned to fitness following a back problem. But his absence from the matchday squad, let alone the starting XI, at Fulham was a decision borne out of preference rather than necessity. Ten Hag, to put it simply, just doesn’t fancy Wan-Bissaka. A player who lacks the technical ability and guile to truly thrive in the Dutchman’s system.
It’s telling that United are reportedly eyeing Jeremie Frimpong as Wan-Bissaka’s replacement. The one-time Celtic and Man City whizzkid thrives where Wan-Bissaka often fails; five goals and two assists this season marking Frimpong out as one of Europe’s most effective attacking full-backs.
“His profile as a fast player with incredible acceleration and good technique was clear. How many full-backs are able to create three or four possible chances (a game)? Not at lot.” explains Leverkusen director Simon Rolfes (BuliNews).
“His ability to accelerate and decelerate is world-class. If you’re world-class at something at Celtic and in the Bundesliga, that’s also the case in other leagues.
“He has done fantastic. He has the right ambition to work on himself.”
Crystal Palace would relish the opportunity to bring Wan-Bissaka back to the club where he made his name. It remains to be seen, however, if the Eagles would be willing to stump up for the 24-year-old’s £80,000-a-week wages. West Ham is another potential destination, with Vladimir Coufal a target for Bayer Leverkusen.
United, The Telegraph add, could even accept a £40 million loss on a player who’s development, like so many before him, has plateaued at Old Trafford. Bids of £10 million will reportedly be considered.
And if Wan-Bissaka had any lingering hopes of a fresh start in United red, there were extinguished on Sunday afternoon.