Erik ten Hag Has Plans to ‘Sculpt’ £50 Million Manchester United Player

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Initially, Erik Ten Haag was not convinced by Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

However, Laurie Whitwell of The Athletic has reported that: “[John] Murtough [director of football] encouraged Ten Hag to reconsider Aaron Wan-Bissaka”.

He went on to say: “Ten Hag accepted Wan-Bissaka has shown himself a very adept one-on-one defender and believes work can be done to sculpt his attacking play”

Erik Ten Hag Believes Work Can Be Done to ‘Sculpt’ Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a Very Good Defender

Wan-Bissaka has made a name for himself on the back of being an excellent defender in one-on-one situations. It is this side of his game that prompted Manchester United to bid £50 million for the then Crystal Palace right-back in 2019.

In fact, according to SofaScore, the 24-year-old was dribbled past just 0.3 times per game in the 2021/22 Premier League campaign. That figure is nothing short of outstanding. To put it into perspective, Kyle Walker’s respective figure for the same season was 0.5.

It is very rare for a player to master the art of defending at such a young age.

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A Lack of End Product

However, to thrive in modern football, especially under Ten Hag, a full-back needs to be able to do more than just defend.

Wan-Bissaka is a very good defender, but his tendency to lose possession in the attacking phases of the game often puts his side on the back foot, therefore putting his team under more defensive pressure.

This is why having a full-back that is comfortable in possession is so important. It isn’t just about providing goals and assists for the team, but also limiting the number of attacks the opposition have.

It is for this reason that Diogo Dalot has finally been given a run in the side.

Dalot isn’t the best defender but, unlike Wan-Bissaka, he does provide vital assuredness on the ball. He allows the side to play further up the pitch, which makes it easier for Ten Hag’s men to control the game. More control of a game means fewer chances conceded, which leads to Manchester United being a better defensive unit.

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Does Wan-Bissaka Have a Future Under Ten Hag?

The fact Ten Hag believes that he can “sculpt” the right-back into a better attacker is a good sign.

The Dutchman has plenty of experience in developing young players and he has shown that numerous times at Ajax. Therefore, if Ten Hag believes that he can improve that side of Wan-Bissaka’s game, then he is most likely right.

The question is, how much can Wan-Bissaka improve in the attacking phase?

The good news for him is that he doesn’t necessarily need to improve that much. Wan-Bisssaka is never going to be the best player on the ball, but he doesn’t need to be. If he can, at the very least, get to a point where he is comfortable on the ball, then he will transform himself into a viable option in Ten Hag’s system given his defensive ability.

If Ten Hag is right and he improves that side of his game, then the Red Devils will have a very good player in their ranks.