When Diogo Dalot came on as a late substitute for Luke Shaw in Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with Southampton on Saturday, making his Premier League debut, it added another impressive achievement for a player that only played his first senior match a little over a year ago.

The young full-back has built an impressive reputation since he burst onto the scene two years ago with Portugal’s U17 squad at the European Championships, helping them win the title and being named in the team of the tournament.  Despite making only eight senior appearances in all competitions last season with FC Porto, his performances were enough to earned him a summer move to one of Europe’s top clubs.

PortuGoal takes a closer look at the player José Mourinho called “the best young full-back in Europe.” 

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Dalot began playing football at the Fintas Academy in Braga at the age of six before signing for FC Porto in 2008. He quickly rose up the ranks there, often competing against players a few years older than him, which became a theme in the early stage of his career.

He made his debut with Portugal’s U15 squad when he was barely 14 and soon after made his debut for the U16 side. Also, Dalot saw his first action in the UEFA Youth Cup, a kind of junior Champions League, with Porto in 2015 at the age of only 16.

Dalot really came to prominence at the U17 UEFA European Championships in 2016, where he scored twice in the tournament, including in the final against Spain, and converted his penalty in the shootout to help Portugal lift the trophy.

He also represented his country the following summer at the U19 European Championships and the FIFA U20 World Cup.

Dalot made his senior debut with Porto in a Taça de Portugal match against Lusitano G.C. in October 2017, a 6-0 win. He played his first Primeira Liga match on 18 February, 2018 as a late substitute in a 5-0 win against Rio Ave. The following week, on his first start for the Dragons, he pitched in with two assists in a 5-1 rout of Portimonense.

He made his Champions League debut in March in a goalless draw against Liverpool. In the summer, José Mourinho had no hesitation in paying £19 million for the promising 19-year-old.  

Strengths and style of play

Dalot is nominally a right-sided player but can play on the left as he did as an injury replacement for Alex Telles last season with Porto. He has good size for a full-back, which usually sees him come out on top in aerial duels and head-to-head battles with attackers. He is adept at defending as much as attacking.

“Diogo is an extremely talented young defender with all the qualities to quickly become a great player for this club. He has all the attributes that a full-back needs: physicality, tactical intelligence and technical quality, combined with a Porto Academy mentality which prepares players for the maturity they need at the professional level,” Mourinho said soon after signing him.

Dalot also has a seemingly innate ability to deliver accurate crosses into the box, especially from the right side, and often from near impossible positions.

He certainly showed his quality in his senior debut with Manchester United, a Champions League fixture against Swiss club Young Boys in September. He completed 84.8 per cent of his passes, delivered four crosses and made three interceptions. He looked as comfortable contributing to the attack as when tracking back.

Mourinho said after the match that Dalot could play for United for a decade, given his age and quality. Big praise for a player who had just played his first senior match for the club. “Everyone could see his potential,” he added.

Dalot followed it up with another good performance against Derby County in the Carabao Cup the following week, providing the cross into the box in the final moments of normal time that Maroune Fellaini converted to tie the match. Dalot converted his penalty in the shootout before United were eliminated.

Despite his tender age, it comes as little surprise that Dalot is already firmly in his club manager’s plans, even given Mourinho’s reputation for putting little trust in young players. He probably would have made his Premier League bow sooner had he not suffered an injury with Portugal’s U21 side.

With Antonio Valencia getting on in years, it seems just a matter of time before the Portuguese makes the right-back position his own for the club.

 

Fact file

Name: José Diogo Dalot Teixeira

Date of birth: 18 March, 1999 (19 years old)

Place of birth: Braga, Portugal

Height: 1.84m

Current club: Manchester United

Position: Full-back

Portugal caps: 0

 by Rui Martins 

 

Comments (8)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I doubted Joao Cancelo a lot during the build up to the World Cup so much so that I completely wrote him off. I remember him playing a couple games for us and honestly he looked like he had no idea what sport he was playing not just his position...

I doubted Joao Cancelo a lot during the build up to the World Cup so much so that I completely wrote him off. I remember him playing a couple games for us and honestly he looked like he had no idea what sport he was playing not just his position as a right back. This year on Juventus he has completely changed my mind and at this point, not only is he 100% our right back but he’s curitop 3 in the world in my opinion in that position. Get to the point Justin, so I’m wondering if this Diogo Dalot can play center back. He’s 6 ft tall and has some good size to him, perhaps him and Ruben Dias could be our future? I don’t know, just throwing some ideas out there.

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I've wondered about that also, Dalot playing in Center Back. But my thoughts were as part of a back three. I know that sounds wrong given we are seemingly short in that position(Center Back), but I think players like Paulo Oliveria, Ruben Vezo...

I've wondered about that also, Dalot playing in Center Back. But my thoughts were as part of a back three. I know that sounds wrong given we are seemingly short in that position(Center Back), but I think players like Paulo Oliveria, Ruben Vezo and Edgar Ie would be good as Outside Backs for a back three, along with Dalot. They are good with the ball at their feet and can pass fairly well. Also, I think Danilo P. would do good in a back three. So there are options. With Danilo, you could shift instantly into a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 in a game(depending on other personnel on the field), by pushing him into midfield and pulling the wing back into the back. But in this scenario, I wouldn't want two DM's such as Neves and William at same time.

It would allow our wing backs a great ability to get forward, which they are good at. Concelo, Rafa G, Perreira, M. Rui. Also, it would take some defensive pressure off of our smallish left backs, Rafa, Rui, Vinagre.

But why mess with what has been mostly working well. I don't imagine we will make major changes until Ronaldo or Pepe retire.

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People go on about Danilo at CB but he's a DM not a CB. In such a crucial position you need players who are specialists.
I watch Lille and Edgar Le has a lot to learn BUT there is Diogo Liete at Porto to keep an eye on.

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Cancelo is the Portuguese Marcelo. He is fabulous in attack but he forgets what "defending" is. For this reason, he can never be considered one of the best in the world because doing half your job well and the other half awfully cannot put you in...

Cancelo is the Portuguese Marcelo. He is fabulous in attack but he forgets what "defending" is. For this reason, he can never be considered one of the best in the world because doing half your job well and the other half awfully cannot put you in contention.

Cancelo has been amazing at Juve because they are in a one team league. He has done well with Portugal because no one gives a crap about the Nations League. But in important, pressure games where you need to defend, you will see how poor he is in the defending aspect of his game.

Dalot is the future at RB because he is balanced. Does both attacking and defending superbly well. Oh and he can also play LB.

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Cancelo did well at Inter Milan and Valencia so I think you are being a little harsh. Yes defending isn't his strong point but as you say neither is it Marcelo's so if the midfield can cover his attacking runs then I don't see a problem.
Dalot...

Cancelo did well at Inter Milan and Valencia so I think you are being a little harsh. Yes defending isn't his strong point but as you say neither is it Marcelo's so if the midfield can cover his attacking runs then I don't see a problem.
Dalot has to prove himself yet. Shame he's now got a limited manager which wont help him.

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Maybe I wasn't clear: Marcelo is a garbage defender. He and David Luiz have long been 2 of the worst defenders I have ever seen, and it was amazing to watch Germany smash Brazil 7-1 because it was specifically through Marcelo and Luiz's...

Maybe I wasn't clear: Marcelo is a garbage defender. He and David Luiz have long been 2 of the worst defenders I have ever seen, and it was amazing to watch Germany smash Brazil 7-1 because it was specifically through Marcelo and Luiz's horrendous defending that the Germans exploited goals.

Marcelo as a winger is a different story. Cancelo is the same thing; he is a hell of a winger but he is so poor on defence that he becomes a liability. People are so quick to forget or trash Cedric, when he has been a rock for the Seleccao. And by the way, he scored a wondergoal for Southampton over the weekend.

I am not saying Cancelo should be removed from the Seleccao or anything. I am saying he should not be 1st choice RB for the same reason that Eliseu should not have been 1st choice LB; they simply can't cut it defensively. And if you can't cut it on D against the top 10 of the world, then you ain't going nowhere.

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I am trying to figure out how Portugal has so much talent and yet Portuguese team hardly have any Portuguese players on their roster. People keep saying " they can't hold on to them , blah blah blah" here is an example Diogo , he played a few...

I am trying to figure out how Portugal has so much talent and yet Portuguese team hardly have any Portuguese players on their roster. People keep saying " they can't hold on to them , blah blah blah" here is an example Diogo , he played a few games and sold for 19 Million. I am a Porto fan and sometimes I find it hard to support my team when the opposing team is from some other European country and has more Portuguese players on their roster.

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Fair point but looking at the size of Porto's debt they don't really have much choice. They managed to keep hold of most of their players this summer just gone so they aren't doing too badly.
There's Danilo, Andre Pereira, Diogo Liete...

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