Why Alex Telles is a Cruical Signing for Man United

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Alex Telles is the latest player linked to a Man United move and with the club “monitoring” the situation just like they have done with all the other 12 players this summer, it appears as though the board will finally unzip those pockets and get the chequebook out.

It’s evident the fanbase are excited by this transfer news but are they getting a little ahead of their selves just because we need people in the door. Is Alex Telles really worth it or is he just a second rate choice to Sergio Reguilon.

Current Left Back Situation

The current left back situation is an interesting nut to crack. It’s safe to say that the said position wasn’t one for the shopping list this summer, but it is definitely somewhere we need to strengthen.

At this current moment, our left back options are scarce. Luke Shaw is the starting left sided full back and despite being an underrated player he has shown what he offers to United before his injury at the back end of last season. His defensive capabilities not only at full back but also as an occasional centre back are very useful to have at this club. It’s Shaw’s attacking style that is the area for improvement.

We are living in a revolutionised footballing world where full backs are expected to have more of an attacking output than a defensive input and that is why Wan Bissaka and Shaw are looked on in a negative light. Just look at the full backs considered the best in the world. Trent Alexander Arnold offers more going forward than he does as a defender and Liverpool are champions of England. Alphonso Davies is recognised as a full back that is always involved in Bayern’s dominant attacks and isn’t known for his defensive duties and he has just won a Champions League playing that style.

Looking closer to home, Manchester City full backs aren’t their strongest asset but Benjamin Mendy and either Kyle Walker or Joao Cancelo are still programmed to attack more than defend because of the way the team plays. Chelsea have Reece James who is turning into a threatening attacking full back and Ben Chilwell who has made a name for himself as a forward thinking left back. See the pattern? The three best teams in the league have two attacking full backs that know how to play that style. I understand different teams will play different styles but when the common theme in great full backs is the attacking output then maybe heads have to start to turn.

However, with all the being said, if you asked me whether United can win a league title with Luke Shaw I would say yes. He is a championship winning left back and if strengthen in the right areas then United can win trophies with the Englishman at full back.

Looking beyond Luke Shaw, who else is there to fill in at left back? Brandon Williams is a right footer at left back and we all saw how that went towards the end of last season. To get the best out of Williams, Ole needs to utilise him at right back. If Timothy Fosu Mensah moves to a more central role in the midfield, where he has played before with a modicum of success, and Dalot is sold on then Brandon will become second choice to Wan Bissaka which would suit him much better than acting as second fiddler to Shaw.

So why do we need Telles?

Just because Luke Shaw is capable of being a title winning left back doesn’t mean we shouldn’t improve our chances with a player more likely to hold that accolade.

Alex Telles is that attacking full back we have mentioned above, and he wouldn’t look out of place compared to the likes of Andy Robertson and Ben Chilwell.

So just how good is Alex Telles?

I will make an honest admission that I, along with many others, am not a weekly watcher of Primeira Liga where Telles calls home but having seen him in action over the years in the coveted Europa League and watching highlights since the links, I can see why United are after the Brazilian.

His passing is his main attribute, which you’ll see in the stat comparison below, and that is exactly what is required at United. Shaw’s lack of attacking output is made up with Telles who creates chances a plenty. His crossing is often pinpoint and he can often find the space in order to get a cross in. One of many problems United face is supplying the attacking line with chances and Telles will help with that. It’s not an overstatement to say the Brazilian can find a good ball out of almost nothing and that could be the positive play we need when the proverbial chips are down.

He is also a mean dribbler and can get forward far more successfully than both Shaw and Wan Bissaka. His close control he possesses allows him to use that pace he has to good effect however it is one thing having those traits and it’s another thing to use them effectively and Telles does that. He is similar to Bruno in that he will play that risky ball in order to try and unlock a strong defensive. If there is space, he will dribble into it and if there is a player in space he will try and get the ball to him.

It is one thing saying all this but let’s put the words into statistics.

Statistical Comparisons

The best way to look at Alex Telles in stats is to compare him to fellow left backs from around Europe to see where he truly ranks.

It’s also worth noting all stats are only for the season 2019/20 and are correct as of transfermarkt.

Player Mins Played Goals Assists Points per game Cards (Y/D) Honours
Alex Telles (FC Porto) 4102 13 12 2.29 11/1 Portuguese Super Cup, Portuguese League, Portuguese Cup
Luke Shaw (Manchester United) 2526 1 3 1.97 9/0 None
Ben Chilwell (Chelsea) 2915 3 4 1.67 3/0 None
Andy Robertson (Liverpool) 4272 3 12 2.39 4/0 Premier League
Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City) 2324 0 4 2.40 6/0 League Cup
Sergio Reguilon (Sevilla) 3055 3 5 2.16 10/0 Europa League
Alphonso Davies 3676 3 10 2.61 4/1 Champions League, German League, German Cup

Let’s start with goals.

Obviously, goals aren’t the most important asset in a defender’s game but with this ever-changing game it is something to look at because at the end of the day, goals win games.

Alex Telles is leading the race with 13 goals for Porto last season compared to the second best which is 3. Telles is playing in the easiest league out of the players selected and he does often take set pieces. However, those set pieces and goals can offer United a lot going forward if he were to join.

Next is assists.

Assists is a crucial part of a defender’s game nowadays and Telles has plenty of them. He ranks top alongside Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson who is considered by many as the best left back in the world. Again, the league and set pieces need to be considered but still on an individual level, Telles is matching the Scotsman’s impressive stats.

Points per game is a good stat to look at as it shows the impact the player has on the team winning the game.

Telles ranks lower in this category which is interesting considering the various leagues selected. You would think the points per game would be higher for a Porto player than a player like Andy Robertson or Benjamin Mendy. The stat is taken from all competitions so the Europa League may have resulted in a lower overall total.

Finally. Let’s look at honours.

Winning trophies isn’t an individual accolade, but you very rarely win silverware with a weak link in the team. Telles won everything there was to win in Portugal last year which matches Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich. The status of the league is important, but you still can’t take anything away from Telles and Porto’s achievements last season.

Clean Sheets were not compared in the table of statistics. Alex Telles has got 22 clean sheets in all competitions last season and is in the average compared to others. Centre backs and goalkeepers are where clean sheets matter most but it is still an interesting statistic and comparison to see for any full back.

So, in the statistical comparison for last season, Alex Telles comes out with good numbers, but it has to be taken into account the quantity of minutes he played as well as the league in which he is doing it in. Still, an impressive haul for the Brazilian left back.

Impact on others

To conclude, let’s look at the impact Alex Telles will have on other players at United.

Two men will benefit the most from Telles’s addition and they are Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Starting with Rashford, Marcus has been hitting a prolonged dry patch on that left-hand side ever since his return from a spinal injury last season. However, you can tell by just watching his performances, the Englishman benefits the most from having Luke Shaw behind him. With an inexperienced Brandon Williams, Rashford is left with no real supply and is always being cautious and can’t rely on passing back to Brandon if in danger. In both Shaw and Telles, Marcus can trust. You add a more attacking left back to United then Rashford’s confidence will skyrocket as he will be able to play his game more without worrying about frailties at the back. He will get more passes and will have Telles to pass to as backup.

Anyone who is brought into supply will instantly benefit Anthony Martial in his coveted number 9 position. As previously stated, Alex Telles is a good crosser of the ball and the more balls he gets into the box the more chances that Martial will get and we all know if you give the Frenchman a chance he will likely score that chance. If you add more logs to the fire, then the flames will get stronger and that is exactly what adding Telles will be to Anthony Martial.

Harry Maguire may also benefit from the constant deliveries from the left boot of Alex Telles. If we put Alex on free kicks and corners, then the deliveries will often fall right on the head of Maguire and if Harry can learn where the opposition goal is then that unlikely combination is a recipe for success.

Telles will also create competition for Luke Shaw for that left back position and we know full well that Shaw loves to play for this club and with a new left back through the door, he will likely up his performance levels in order to keep his spot in the side.

Conclusion

So, with all that being said, it appears to me that Alex Telles is a crucial signing to Man United in many aspects and is a deal the board need to get done as soon as possible. Get Telles in.

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