Manchester United defender Tyrell Malacia has the perfect opportunity to remind Erik ten Hag that he deserves a spot in the club’s starting XI.
After being substituted at half-time during the 6-3 defeat to rivals Manchester City on October 2, Malacia has only played 25 minutes of Premier League football. The writing had somewhat been on the wall for the 23-year-old after he was also hooked off at the break against Omonia Nicosia in the match prior to the City loss.
There is no doubting that Malacia is talented, as he showed during a superb string of performances earlier in the season. However, Luke Shaw has since cemented himself as Ten Hag’s starting left-back with a recent resurgence to form that will be all too familiar with a certain Brazilian full-back out on loan at Sevilla.
Malacia ticks almost every box for an archetypal Ten Hag signing, as the Dutchman not only loves attacking full-backs but also those who can play in more than one position. The Dutch international demonstrated his versatility after former United boss Louis van Gaal asked him to play as a centre-back during the latest round of UEFA Nations League matches – despite some initial protests, he put in a commanding performance alongside Virgil van Dijk in the second half of a 1-0 win against Belgium.
The former Feyenoord man can also play at right-back, something that could well be in rehearsal on the training ground at Carrington this week, with Diogo Dalot set to miss out on Sunday’s Premier League match against Fulham through suspension.
Ten Hag could be inclined to rest Shaw on Thursday night for his side’s third-round Carabao Cup clash against Aston Villa, with Malacia potentially stepping in at left-back, before then being moved across the back-four to right-back in place of Dalot at the weekend.
Although Ten Hag may not have started Malacia as much as the defender would have hoped, there is no doubting what the United boss thinks about his abilities.
Speaking to United’s in-house media after Malacia signed for the club, he said: “I think he’s the modern left-back or full-back. He suits the profile [we were looking for] and most important from every full-back is that he closes the right area.
“He can also take part in the offensive side of our game, and he can do that really well. I think he will really contribute to the team.”
Malacia may well now find himself with the perfect opportunity to remind Ten Hag why he signed him in the first place, as he looks to give his manager a rather large selection headache heading into the World Cup break.