Diogo Dalot and the AC Milan Right-Back Conundrum

Diogo Dalot

Manager Stefano Pioli has reintroduced heart and vigor to AC Milan. The Rossoneri are playing some of their best football of the past decade, and the battle for spots in the starting line-up is beginning to heat up. One of the positions still up for grabs is at right-back. Manchester United loanee Diogo Dalot, who is yet to make an appearance for Milan, will find himself in the middle of that battle.

The AC Milan Right-Back Conundrum Involving Diogo Dalot

Two Competitors

Besides Dalot, the two other right-backs of starting quality in the squad are Davide Calabria and Andrea Conti.

Calabria is seen as the current starter. He’s a product of Milan’s youth academy and has been a consistent face in the starting line-up for a couple of seasons now. However, his main issue is consistency. In Milan’s three first league games, Calabria was fantastic. He was tough defensively and provided enough going forward.

In the last game, the Milan Derby, Calabria was shaky at times. He was at fault for Ivan Perisic‘s ball to Romelu Lukaku to net Inter their goal. Right before that, however, he was a primary reason for Milan’s counter-attack that led them to get a penalty. His performance overall was decent, but far too many times does he find himself at fault for an opposing goal. Having Calabria in the line-up is always detrimental, but definitely can be beneficial against the better teams.

Conti looked like the next big thing while at Atalanta, which convinced Milan to purchase him in 2017. Since then, he’s been extremely injury-prone, which has affected his performances. Although that is simply bad luck, football is a business and he can’t continue to perform poorly and play an important role for Milan. His time at the San Siro is definitely ticking, and this may be his last season to prove doubters wrong.

What Diogo Dalot Brings to the Table

Manchester United purchased Dalot from Porto in 2018 for a fee of €22 million. At the time, Jose Mourinho saw something special in the Portuguese youngster. He’s struggled to make appearances for United, simply because of Aaron Wan-Bissaka being the first-choice.

What makes Dalot special is his attacking ability as a full-back. He has pace, a willingness to take on other players and a natural ability to find his teammates for scoring opportunities. His playing style isn’t too far off from Achraf Hakimi, who Milan fans just saw this past weekend.

Dalot will be a great complementary piece to Milan’s left-back Theo Hernandez. Both players thrive going forward and will supply Zlatan Ibrahimovic with plenty of chances. They can also create strong chemistry and link-up play with Milan wingers such as Ante Rebic and Rafael Leão.

Attacking-minded full-backs aren’t always the best defensively. This is the case for both Dalot and Hernandez, who may create problems here and there. Their defence skills aren’t worrisome enough, however, to be used as a point to not start the two together.

Dalot can also be used as a left-back, which shows his versatility. He will likely make some appearances there this season due to Milan loaning Diego Laxalt to Celtic.

Expect to see a heavy dose of Dalot in the Europa League group stage and against bottom half Serie A teams. He will have to prove a point in those matches to eventually earn the starting right-back role down the road.

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