Dalot: My game is growing
Manchester United's Diogo Dalot feels he has become a more rounded footballer over the last calendar year.
Dalot is 23 today (Friday 18 March) and he was handed an early birthday present on Thursday as he was named in the Portugal squad for the upcoming World Cup play-offs.
Our no.20 will be looking to add to his four caps so far for Fernando Santos’s side, all of which have been won since June 2021.
As he celebrates his birthday, Diogo has reflected on why the past 12 months have been important for him on a personal level.
“I always try to step up a little bit each game, but I’d like to say in general I’ve been playing good, in my opinion,” Diogo told us in an exclusive interview conducted last week.
“I’m growing in every aspect of my game and I’m trying to get that consistency that will give me more time on the pitch.
“Obviously getting more minutes from this club, that’s what I wanted since I came here,” he added.
“I want to combine that with good results in the team and help the team as well get a result.”
Dalot enjoyed a fruitful loan spell at AC Milan last season, going up against United in the Europa League round of 16 and ultimately helping the Rossoneri to a second-place finish in Serie A – their best showing in nine years.
The former Porto man believes he has benefited from the 33 appearances he made for the Italian club and he has been able to use what he learned in Italy back at Old Trafford.
United are always keen to use the loan market to give opportunities to our promising young players, with no fewer than 17 Reds currently enjoying temporary spells – whether in England or abroad.
And Diogo can certainly recommend a short move away, as he has returned and established himself in the side, especially since Ralf Rangnick came in as interim manager.
“It was very good for me to see another perspective: not just the one I had in Portugal or here, but another country’s perspective,” Dalot continued.
“It brought me a lot of stuff that I’m now using and hopefully I can combine everything and be a better – not just player, but a man as well.
“It’s always a new perspective, a new challenge as well, new opportunity. That’s the point of a loan, because you’re not getting the game time you want here.
“You want to have that and show that you can have a good run of games and perform at a high level and that’s what I showed last season when I was in Italy.
“Obviously with the help of the club, with the help of the players I had there, it was fantastic.
“I felt I got the job done and then I came back here and felt more confident, more prepared as well, because I had the high-quality games on my legs, on my mind.
“Obviously I was ready to start the season and so I’m here now.”
So, what’s on the agenda between now and March 2023, when Diogo will turn 24?
A trophy to give United fans something to celebrate is top of the list, while Qatar 2022 is also never far from his mind – although Portugal will have to get past Turkey and one of Italy or North Macedonia first.
“I would love, next season, to give them [the supporters] that joy and satisfaction to celebrate with us and obviously Portugal being in the World Cup and being part of that would be amazing.
“For me it’s still a long way to get there. It’s been a tough season, we know that, but we need to go step by step and focus on the next few games.
“When the time comes I’ll think about it.”