Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is open to signing a new left-back before the transfer window closes next week, and negotiations are continuing with Porto over a possible transfer for Alex Telles.
Manchester United have been monitoring Telles this summer and could land him for far less than his £36million release clause because his contract expires in 2021.
Telles has been a regular for Sergio Conceicao’s side following his arrival from Galatasaray in 2016, with 193 appearances in all competitions for the Primeira Liga giants.
He would bring years of top-flight experience to United’s defence and is both a solid defensive operator and an attacking threat down the flank.
We’ve taken a look at how United could line up if Telles joins.
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Left-back in a four-man defence
Starting XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Telles; Matic, Pogba, Fernandes; Greenwood, Rashford, Martial
Telles has played the bulk of his career as a traditional left-back in a four-man defence behind a narrow midfield three.
This allows him to get forward into the space left by the absence of a natural wide midfielder. At Porto he often links up with the left-sided attacker, primarily Luis Diaz in 2019/20.
That ability to drive forward and get into the opposition half helped Telles score 11 league goals from left-back last term.
He outscored all but one player for Conceicao’s side in 2019/20, although that was in part because he took free-kicks and penalties.
His trademark within Porto’s high-pressing system last season was linking up with Diaz around the edge of the box to create and score goals.
At United, the pace of Marcus Rashford ahead of him could make for a deadly partnership.
Left wing-back in a 5-3-2 system
Starting XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw, Telles; Matic, Pogba; Fernandes; Rashford, Martial
Moving to a wing-back role would be a positional change for Telles, but it could be an option for Solskjaer to ensure greater defensive solidity.
Solskjaer switched between systems last season, with Shaw tucking into a back three and Brandon Williams moving into a left wing-back slot on occasion.
Given Telles’ appetite to get forward this system could help United to get the best out of him.
While the Brazilian’s defensive numbers at Porto are strong, his greatest assets are his athleticism to break forward and his calmness in the final third.
The additional space created by Rashford moving inside to partner Anthony Martial in a front two would allow Telles free rein to attack the opposition right-back.
This shape would also give him an angle to deliver crosses into the box, with his assists for Marega proving to be Porto’s most profitable goal source in 2019/20.