If you are a football fan, you will know that the Winter and Summer months are extremely important in the footballing universe, because it means one thing: Transfer season. With regards to breaking transfer news, there does not come a much more reliable source than Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano. His famous three words “here-we-go” are those every football fan wants to read whenever he tweets about a player potentially joining your club, and last week, Manchester United fans were expecting to see the fateful words with regards to Real Madrid defender, Sergio Reguilon.
Romano was bombarded by United fans after he tweeted that the club was in advanced discussions over the transfer of the left-back, a player who back in August played a pivotal role in his on-loan side Sevilla’s Europa League success, including an inspiring performance against the Red Devils in the semi-final of the competition.
Fans were excited by the prospect of a new player joining the club, especially one of Reguilon’s quality, as the club have only made one summer signing in Donny Van de Beek of Ajax. Those hopes were crashed, as even though Fabrizio Romano did give the “here-we-go” with regards to the Madrid defender, he was confirming that his transfer was completed to former United manager, José Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £27.6 million.
Obviously, this angered United fans as they do not believe their side can compete for the Premier League title with only one new signing. However, the confirmation of Reguilon’s move to North London re-ignited rumours of FC Porto’s left-back, Alex Telles, going to Old Trafford.
The left-back position seems to be a target area for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Manchester United board, and Alex Telles has undoubtedly been one of the best in his position in Europe in recent seasons, with the statistics to back it up. However, United will face stiff competition from French champions Paris Saint-Germain when it comes to obtaining the full-backs signature.
In 2016, Telles completed a permanent deal to FC Porto from Turkish side Galatasaray, having spent the prior season on loan at Inter Milan. The key thing to note about the Brazilian’s four years in Portugal is his constant improvement.
In his first season in Liga Nos, Telles scored 1 goal and recorded 8 assists in 32 games. This was a record that immediately seemed to pay off the cheap £5.85 million transfer fee that was paid for him. A year later, Telles racked up 13 assists and 3 goals as he contributed massively to FC Porto winning the league title. In the 2018/19 season, the full-back once again improved his goal tally, scoring 4 goals whilst providing a further 8 assists in the league – this led to speculation of a transfer to Atletico Madrid and Liverpool. Neither deal materialised and Telles spent last season in Portugal where he then truly cemented himself as one of the best left-backs in Europe, with 19 goal contributions in 31 matches (11 goals, 8 assists), helping his side win the league title by a 5-point margain against their rivals, Benfica. It is fair to say that Telles is the perfect balance of an attacking threat yet defensively sound.
To put that into perspective, last season Manchester United fielded five players in the left-back position throughout the course of the campaign: Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, Diogo Dalot, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and academy graduate Brandon Williams. The five players were responsible for just 1 goal, with none of them providing a single assist in the league. Despite the exciting emergence of the aforementioned Williams, with his passion and fighting spirit adored by fans, it was clear that he is a player for the future rather than an immediate starter.
Following the Premier League restart, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer preferred his full backs to attack first then track back, and with Aaron Wan-Bissaka being one of United’s star players last season in right-back, Alex Telles looks like he could definitely be the man to take the Red Devils forward on the left-hand side… literally.
Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies is widely considered to be the best left-back in world football following his impressive season in which his side won the treble. However, when stacked up against Telles, he comes up short, as he only recorded 4 goals and 4 assists in the Bundesliga, again, proving the quality of the 27-year-old Brazilian.
As well as that, Liverpool are known for their extremely attacking full backs with players on both sides of the pitch able to score and create multiple goals, making them two of the most important players of the team that helped Liverpool to their first league title in 30 years. Andrew Robertson has proved to be irreplaceable in the starting eleven since his bargain £8 million move from Hull City back in 2017, and he is thought to be the best left-back in the Premier League. So how does he compare to Alex Telles?
From a defensive perspective, throughout the season, Robertson flourished over Telles having won 43 ariel duels and made 104 tackles and 6 blocks in comparison to 26 ariel duels won, 54 tackles made and 7 blocked shots from the Brazilian. However, from an attacking standpoint (considered Robertson’s most dangerous quality), the Liverpool left-back made 14 goal contributions in 36 league appearances (2 goals, 12 assists). Despite this still being crazy numbers for a defender, this is 5 less goal contributions than Telles having played 5 extra games.
In Telles, it is a guarantee that he will be an extremely important asset to the team with his goal contributions going to be welcomed by a team that is getting more attacking by the year in Manchester United.
As speculation continues to surround the potential move of Telles to Manchester United, it will be interesting to see the transfer fee the Red Devils will pay, with Porto reportedly only looking a fee in the region of £18 million, just over half of his market value according to transfermarkt.com. An absolute bargain in today’s market for a player of his quality.
Hopefully for the sake of all United fans it will be a relief to see an established player in Europe come in through the door, and it will be exciting player to keep an eye on should he make the switch to Old Trafford.
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Written by Oran Darragh – @darragh_oran