Juan Mata has spoken of how Aaron Wan-Bissaka is like no player he has ever seen at Manchester United.
The 21-year-old, following an excellent 2018-19 season at Crystal Palace, joined Man United for a fee of £50m over the summer.
Amid a poor start, Wan-Bissaka has been a consistently reliable defender, maintaining a solid defensive shape and producing superb tackles on the right-hand side.
Speaking in an interview with the Times, Mata said: “He’s very, very good in defensive duties, very good in tackling.
“I’ve never seen any player like him, he’s unbelievable. Even in training you think you’re past him and then he comes and takes the ball straight.
“He has very long legs! I can only see him improving. Like Anthony, he’s a shy, reserved guy but confident on the pitch.”
In pure defensive terms, Wan-Bissaka is genuinely top class. He’s like a walking textbook on how one should defend: body shape with and without the ball, the timing of challenges, tracking runners, closing down angles, forcing players down dead ends, winning loose balls, holding the optimal position in relation to the other three defenders. The Englishman has all of this down to a tee as if he had revised for it throughout the summer ahead of an important exam.
Tantalisingly, though, there is more that he can learn. Indeed, for all the plaudits that Wan-Bissaka gets for those perfectly timed lunge tackles, he will, in the long run, be better off figuring out a way to win the same amount of balls without having to go to ground. Attacking wise, he needs to develop more maturity with his decision making and execution. That will come in time.
What matters, I guess, is that at the age of 21, United have one hell of a player – and somebody who will only get better.