Dalot makes his first appearance for United
Diogo Dalot endured a peculiar mix of emotions over the summer.
The 19-year-old right-back was clearly ecstatic to complete a dream transfer to Manchester United in June, but then frustrated he could not play for his new club due to an unfortunate injury sustained at the end of the 2017/18 season with FC Porto.
Our new no.20 has watched with envy as his fellow summer signings Fred and Lee Grant took to the field in the famous shirt, introducing themselves to supporters and performing admirably.
Followers of his official Twitter account will have seen his posts from the stand at Old Trafford, where he has eagerly supported his team-mates in the two Premier League home games so far.
Dalot has worked hard on his rehabilitation and joined the first-team squad for training earlier this month. Then, on Friday night, his progress took a significant step forward with an appearance for the Under-23s in the Premier League 2 match against Stoke City at Old Trafford.
“I always had it on my mind that I had to be calm, take it step by step, because the injury was not too bad but it required some patience and I needed that,” the Portuguese told us.
“Now I am here and I am ready to play whenever the coach thinks I am ready.”
Jose Mourinho has described Diogo as the best full-back of his age in Europe and the boss took his place in the lower tier of the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, with a handful of his coaching staff, to assess his acquisition from Portugal, as well as Sergio Romero and our next generation of Academy stars.
While it is premature to make any assessment of Dalot on his first appearance after injury, playing at this lower level too, the prospect was pleased to come through his outing unscathed and with much-needed minutes under his belt.
The fact that he was neat and tidy in his general play, showing off his impressing crossing ability, plus the odd step-over, is an added bonus at this early stage.
It was presumed that Dalot would perhaps play for 45 minutes on Friday evening, or maybe an hour, easing his way back into action under the guidance of Ricky Sbragia. Yet that was not the case and the industrious right-back completed a highly-beneficial 79 minutes on the flank.
“It was nice, the atmosphere was good, I can imagine if the stadium is full and I am very happy to come back,” Dalot explained afterwards.
“It feels good to be back.It was a special night, getting my first minutes after four long months and I am really happy. It is a really special moment for me. I just want to take this opportunity to thank the amazing medical department and the coach, who has believed in me since day one.
It was clearly a timid introduction to Old Trafford, playing in front of 806 supporters in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, but Diogo's appetite has been whetted for greater occasions to come.
“Being a United player has been good so far,” he told us.
“I have been getting to know the city, the facilities, the club. I am enjoying it so much and I hope to enjoy it even more.”
After his first appearance at Old Trafford, Dalot was clear in his final statement:
“I am looking forward to experiencing great things here.”