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Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag could repeat Luke Shaw trick to solve defensive injury crisis and save millions

Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag could repeat Luke Shaw trick to solve defensive injury crisis and save millions

Could he repeat the trick?

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag could repeat his Luke Shaw trick to solve the club’s defensive injury crisis.

On Thursday United threw away a decisive two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Sevilla in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final.

A costly evening saw United concede two late own goals, courtesy of Tyrell Malacia and Harry Maguire, while also losing both Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane to injuries.

Indeed, Martinez looked visibly upset when he was helped off the pitch by Sevilla's Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuna in the 86th minute. The centre-back was then placed on a stretcher and carried away for treatment.

Varane was also forced off at halftime with an injury that Ten Hag admitted the Frenchman had been carrying for weeks.

While the seriousness of the respective injuries is unknown United could be without his first-choice centre-back pairing for a while.

And with Shaw also injured, and Maguire suspended for United’s FA Cup semi-final against Brighton in nine days, it would leave Victor Lindelof as United’s only senior fit centre-back for that game. In turn, Ten Hag may have to get creative with his defensive options.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka at centre-back?

One option would be for Ten Hag to play Aaron Wan-Bissaka as a centre-back.

For much of the season, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Wan-Bissaka would leave Old Trafford at the earliest opportunity, having failed to make his mark under Ten Hag.

However, the 25-year-old has proven in recent months why he is heralded as one of the best defensive full-backs in the league.

And having already converted Shaw to centre-back this season, could Ten Hag repeat the trick with Wan-Bissaka? Indeed, while the former Crystal Palace full-back is limited in the final third, his defensive attributes are outstanding.

As per AVisualGame, Wan-Bissaka has a 93.8 per cent win percentage in 1v1 duels this term, by far the most of any Premier League defender who’s contested more than 15 duels this season.

Furthermore, Ten Hag likes his defenders to progress the play, and Wan-Bissaka has become a far more accomplished ball-playing defender under the Dutchman, proven by the frequency in which he stepped into midfield against Sevilla.

Kwizly Quiz

The idea has been floated before, of course. The Sun claim United considered playing Wan-Bissaka at centre half in pre-season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to see how the player could handle the position.

And should Wan-Bissaka thrive in a centre-back position United could save millions in the next transfer market.

Would Wan-Bissaka at centre-back work?

While there is certainly evidence to suggest Wan-Bissaka has the attributes to be effective in the middle of a back four - or even right side in a three - certain parts of his game are not suited to the position.

While he is a uniquely accomplished tackler and arguably the best 1v1 defender in the world, Wan-Bissaka may not be physically imposing or aggressive enough to effectively contest aerial duals.

Indeed, according to the Premier League, he’s only made 11 aerial clearances in the league this season, albeit in 12 appearances, all of which were from right-back.

Moreover, Wan-Bissaka can be prone to defensive lapses of concentration, which may be taken advantage of by the league’s more wily centre-forwards.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Aaron Wan Bissaka, Brighton And Hove Albion, Emiliano Martinez, Erik Ten Hag, FA Cup, Manchester United, Raphael Varane, Sevilla