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Fulham signing this out of favour 28-year-old Man United star would be a big statement of intent

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Matteo Darmian

Why Fulham should go all out to sign Matteo Darmian in January

Matteo Darmian might be one of Manchester United’s out-of-favour stars who are likely to be available in January. The 28-year-old Italian international has been frozen out of the first-team picture by Jose Mourinho and has made only a solitary appearance in the Premier League this season.

Darmian started United’s opening game of the season against Leicester City and put in a solid performance at the back as the Red Devils claimed three points with a 2-1 win. Despite putting up a good display at the right-back position, the Italian hasn’t been given another chance, with Mourinho preferring to use Ashley Young in place of the injured Antonio Valencia.

Darmian joined United in the summer of 2015 and was one of the first names on the teamsheet in his debut season, making a total of 39 appearances across all competitions. The 28-year-old was one of the cornerstones of United’s successful Europa League campaign in 2016/17 season but has fallen out of favour since the start of last season.

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With a touch of Italian elegance in his style of play, Darmian might not be a high-flying, attack-minded modern-day full-back but few can argue against his quality as a defender. A hardworking and technically-gifted full-back, Darmian’s primary attributes are his stamina, work-rate, positional sense and tactical awareness.

A good reader of the game, Darmian excels with his superior tackling skills and has the ability to break up the play with interceptions. A no-nonsense defender, he likes to play risk-free football and clears the ball out of the defence very often.

Even though he is not particularly known for his attacking prowess, Darmian tends to move higher up the pitch to provide some valuable width to his team during counter-attacks.

As a matter of fact, Darmian averaged 2.3 tackles, 2.2 interceptions and 3.9 clearances per game in the 2016/17 season of the Premier League, which speaks volumes of his quality as a full-back.

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To put things into perspective, it would be a great idea for Fulham to make a move for the Italian in January. Given that he has found regular minutes hard to come by at Old Trafford, it might not be an uphill task for Fulham to lure him away from United.

As evident from their performances so far, the Cottagers have struggled to cope with the standards of the Premier League. As much as Fulham have promised in terms of attack, they have looked very shaky and vulnerable at the back, leaking goals at an alarming rate. In fact, Fulham have conceded as many as 33 goals so far in the Premier League, which clearly epitomises the need to sign some quality players at the back.

Slavisa Jokanovic lost the confidence of the board after managing to guide the team to only a solitary victory from twelve games and the onus is now on new manager Claudio Ranieri to turn defeats into victories.

If the first twelve games are anything to go by, Fulham have a massive void to fill at the right-back position. Apart from the failure of the centre-backs to add any semblance of stability to the backline, right-back Cyrus Christie has put in multiple nightmarish shifts.

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Lacking the usual tactical awareness and positioning of a full-back, the Irishman has been caught out of position numerous times at the back, allowing the attackers plenty of joy down the flanks. Christie’s consistently horrible displays have put more pressure on the centre-backs and unfortunately for Fulham, they have succumbed to the pressure once too often.

Read More: Fulham need strengthening but Ranieri would be better off avoiding this Watford outcast

Manchester United loanee Timothy Fosu-Mensah did reasonably well as the right-back until he was sidelined with an injury and irrespective of what the future holds for the Dutchman, Fulham should look to sign reinforcements in January.

Still only 28, Darmian has plenty of years remaining in his prime and has a lot to offer at the highest level. That said, Fulham should register an interest in the Italian in January to shore up their vulnerable backline.