Matteo Darmian’s performance in the Europa League final in Stockholm was one of the key factors in Manchester United’s win against Ajax.
The Dutch plan was for super-fast forward Bertrand Traore to expose the Italian they had identified as a weak link at left back.
They were wrong.
The 27-year-old had Traore in his pocket and Ajax’s threat was nullified. Without the Burkina Faso player’s danger, Ajax’s potency was minimal. They barely tested Reds’ goalkeeper Sergio Romero all night in Sweden.
It looked like his display may have eased the uncertainty over his Old Trafford future and convinced both himself and manager Jose Mourinho his career at the Reds had legs.
But now Louis van Gaal’s 2015 summer buy from Torino has reportedly rung Mourinho to ask to leave for Juventus.
The Champions League finalists want Darmian to fill the vacancy left by City bound Dani Alves.
But Darmian’s success when he switched to left back after his route to the right back role was blocked by the form of Antonio Valencia could mean a return to Italy might not be in United’s favour.
Former United right and left back stalwart Denis Irwin believes Darmian’s Stockholm effort proved his qualities.
“Darmian ended the season very well. I thought he was superb in the final,” Irwin told MEN Sport.
“Darmian was a bit of a surprise package for me at left back. He obviously arrived as a right back really. I went from right back to left in my early days at United. It is not as easy a thing to do as you may think even though the job is similar.
“You have to defend first and foremost but particularly at United you see a lot of the ball so you have to be comfortable going forward.
“But you saw in the final how good he was defensively. He was up against one of their better players and I thought he did a fantastic job.
“He is probably more comfortable at right back. If you ask him he’d probably say that. I saw him play there for Italy there recently and he looked good.
“But they way he played in Stockholm may have given the manager other ideas. He did a tremendous job in the final against one of Ajax’s most dangerous players.
“The manager as only been in a year and has been assessing players as he went along. Darmian started the season and came out and went back in again late on. But he ended on a high and that will give food for thought. It is up to the manager.
“There are a lot of players who can play left back at United but it has been a role hit by injuries.
“The numbers are there but Luke Shaw has been really unfortunate with injuries. He has never really got up and running. He was on crutches in the Europa League final. I don’t know where he is up to in his rehabilitation but he could do with a really good pre-season.
“Marcos Rojo played there as well but he’s on crutches as well and could be out until Christmas. Daley Blind has also played there.
“Whether the manager thinks there is enough cover there I don’t know. But Darmian has proved himself now.”
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