Matteo Darmian grabbing his opportunity in Antonio Valencia’s absence

by Sam Peoples

Matteo Darmian quietly had an excellent game in Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Burnley at Old Trafford.

The Italian right-back has had to bide his time this season due to Antonio Valencia‘s consistent form but with the Ecuadorian having surgery on Saturday to fix a fractured arm, he’s been granted an opportunity which he took with both hands on Saturday.

Burnley rarely threatened but when they did Darmian swept up. There was one particular moment in the first half where he attacked down the right, United lost the ball and Burnley broke but Darmian recovered with a perfectly timed sliding tackle. For a player whose had such little game time I thought he was impressive.

Darmian is one player who I thought could excel under Jose Mourinho in the same vein Chris Smalling did under Louis van Gaal but Valencia’s kept him out of the team thus far. Now, he’s going to get a good run of games under his belt if Valencia is ruled out through injury and the signs against Burnley are certainly positive.

Back when he started at United, I thought we’d finally found a replacement for Gary Neville. Darmian was so consistent and sharp that I felt our right-back issues had disappeared. Yet, he was nothing short of woeful for the rest of the season after being torn a new one away at Arsenal and he never fully recovered.

Now, he’s got a new lease of life and a fresh start under Mourinho and I hope we can see him get back to that early form he showed as a new signing because if he does then I think Valencia will struggle to get back in the team.

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