Manchester United have signed Alex Telles to bolster their beleaguered defence – however will the Brazilian make a reputation for himself on the different finish of the pitch as a substitute?
Telles has lengthy been linked with a transfer to the Premier League, first cropping up on Chelsea’s radar in 2015 whereas a promising teen at Galatasaray. However in more moderen years, he has been busy impressing on the Iberian peninsula, scoring 21 targets throughout 5 seasons from left-back for Porto.
United have lastly bought their man after a protracted battle to safe his signature, and the remaining size on his Porto contract – which expires subsequent June – seemingly performed its half.
Now getting into the prime of his profession at 27, can Telles fulfil membership legend Ryan Giggs’ prediction that the left-back can present a stage of high quality Manchester United “have been lacking” lately – beginning with their Saturday Evening Soccer conflict with Chelsea, reside on Sky Sports activities Premier League and Essential Occasion?
A textbook Brazilian full-back?
It’s no secret that Telles’ strengths lie in his attacking output. No-one has made extra targets since Porto moved into the Estadio do Dragao again in 2003 than the Brazilian, whose heritage provides greater than a nod to his model of play.
Roberto Carlos, Marcelo, Dani Alves, and numerous extra of his countrymen have taken the sport to the opposition from full-back lately, whereas notable figures, together with Danilo and Alex Sandro, have achieved so within the blue of Porto. Telles is little totally different, racking up 11 targets and eight assists within the Primeira Liga final season.
Now donning Manchester United’s pink, there’s definitely a powerful case to be made about how the Brazilian can enhance their backline, as a lot after they have the ball than when they don’t.
“You have a look at Liverpool, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson and the targets and assists that they supply,” Giggs – amongst United’s most efficient attacking retailers of all time – instructed the Webby and O’Neill podcast. “In Telles, I feel that is one thing we have been lacking
“Now, full-backs need to have that of their armour. If the wingers are coming in, the full-backs need to create the width and make targets.”
Whereas Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams, the membership’s two common left-backs in 2019/20, did not register a single help between them throughout the marketing campaign, Telles was busy trying a mean of 10 crosses per sport down the Porto left, finishing round 1 / 4.
Even so, his spectacular output ought to include a phrase of warning; Telles has lengthy had one thing approaching free-reign over Porto’s set-pieces. Eight of his 11 targets in 2019/20 got here from the penalty spot – one thing Bruno Fernandes might have one thing to say about at Previous Trafford – and 6 of his eight assists from set-pieces.
In reality, Shaw’s charge of probability creation in open play outstripped the Brazilian by about 25 per cent – however other than a short flurry of 4 assists in a 2018/19 marketing campaign the place the ex-Southampton man shone, his seven years at Previous Trafford have hardly ever showcased the attacking promise he displayed up and down the left flank in his youthful years on the south coast, and positively nowhere close to the extent of the brand new arrival.
“Though he’s a left defender, Telles has been a necessary a part of Porto’s offensive sport,” Andre Monteiro, who covers Porto for nationwide Portuguese newspaper Report, instructed Sky Sports activities. “His whipped crosses are glorious and really troublesome to defend.”
One other challenge to keep in mind is the direct comparability between totally different golf equipment and leagues, however simply as Porto spent a lot of 2019/20 dominating possession, so too did Manchester United – albeit they usually wished they didn’t, successful solely 11 of 28 video games the place they’d nearly all of the ball.
Having an extra attacking prong of the standard of Telles might present a helpful spark when trying to unpick the type of low block which has usually pissed off them beneath Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“He’s very Brazilian in his strategy,” Vitor Goncalves of Portuguese nationwide broadcaster RTP added. “His passing is superb – that is one factor that makes him totally different, even from different Brazilian left-backs.”
In isolation, Telles’ passing stats don’t make outstanding studying, the very fact he created 57 possibilities, the seventh-highest tally throughout the complete division, definitely does.
Brazilian going ahead… And backwards?
Simply as Brazilian full-backs are recognized for his or her attacking prowess, so too has their defensive high quality been referred to as into query at instances, and Telles’ potential with out the ball has divided opinion amongst those that have studied him intently on the Dragao.
That is the place direct comparisons grow to be harder. The challenges of the Primeira Liga haven’t supplied him the identical checks he’ll face within the Premier League, with Porto and Benfica’s dominance such that the league trophy has travelled between their two trophy cupboards alone in each season since 2002. Additional again, the final time Porto conceded greater than a purpose a sport throughout a league season was 1997/98.
On the larger stage he has definitely discovered life tougher, as have his Porto team-mates – in a 2-0 loss to Rangers in final season’s Europa League, the Scottish facet’s first purpose got here from a cross he had poorly defended, whereas of their 4-1 house defeat to Liverpool the earlier yr, he fully misplaced Sadio Mane for the eventual winners’ opener.
“He’s not pretty much as good defensively as he’s going ahead,” Goncalves instructed Sky Sports activities. “However he’s positively, within the mould of Brazilian full-backs, extra of a defender than a winger.”
Definitely, Solskjaer’s choice to make use of Telles as a wing-back on debut in Manchester United’s 2-1 win at PSG in midweek hints at the place he views the Brazilian’s strengths and limitations.
However in a league recognized for its physicality, his personal energy and tempo could possibly be suited to the defensive rigours of the English sport, within the thoughts of Monteiro.
“He has no drawback with defensive duties,” he mentioned. “Telles has a very good positional sense and is superb in one-on-one conditions.
“His tackling is one among his robust factors, in addition to his energy. I actually suppose the Premier League is the most effective place for him, not only for his offensive manner of enjoying however his bodily potential. I feel he would discover it a lot more durable to showcase his potential within the Italian or Spanish leagues.”
Whether or not Telles may also help shore up a Manchester United defence which has already shipped greater than a 3rd of the targets it let in throughout the entire of 2019/20 in its opening 4 video games is troublesome to reply. Whether or not he’s even meant to, primarily based on Solskjaer’s early designs for his new full-back, is one other query.
One factor which does appear extra doubtless is that United have acquired a top-quality addition to their ranks, within the period of the fashionable full-back, able which badly wanted bettering. And for all Solskjaer’s frustration at trying to crack open fortified opposition defences final season, the brand new arrival on the again might present some actual respite going ahead.