Diogo Dalot playing against Liverpool

Diogo Dalot: Our new signing's story so far

Wednesday 06 June 2018 14:00

Ever since joining Fintas Academy in his hometown of Braga at the age of six, Diogo Dalot – or Jose Diogo Dalot Teixeira, to give him his full name – has been turning heads with his footballing ability.

With Portuguese giants Porto and Benfica both keenly battling to sign him, Dalot joined Porto’s youth system in 2008 at the age of nine and has since blossomed into one of the most promising players in his homeland. 

Such is the talented teenager’s undoubted ability, United manager Jose Mourinho has acted quickly in the summer window to secure the signature of his Portuguese compatriot, who becomes the club’s second signing of the summer after the capture of Brazilian midfielder Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk.

A typical modern full-back, the versatile 19-year-old is blessed with natural pace and an appetite to attack, has an excellent cross in his armoury and is comfortable operating at both right-back and left-back.

As well as being capable of dealing with opponents on the ground, Dalot is also a commanding six-footer and is equally adept at using his aerial presence to combat taller attackers.

A brief loan spell at Padroense in the Portuguese Second Division in 2014/15 and progress in Porto’s Reserves team paved the way for Dalot to gain experience on the international stage, upon which he already has significant pedigree.

Capped by Portugal at youth level from Under-15s to Under-21s, he won the Under-17 European Championship in Azerbaijan in 2016, scoring two crucial goals during his five appearances and being named in the Team of the Tournament. 

Dalot netted the decisive second goal in Portugal’s 2-0 semi-final win over the Netherlands and then scored a fine goal in the final in Baku, as his side drew 1-1 with Spain, before notching in the shoot-out as they prevailed 5-4 on penalties.    

Later that year, the Portuguese prodigy also played his part in helping the Under-19 team reach the quarter-finals of the European Championship. Despite the team’s last-eight exit, Dalot had still shown enough to earn a place in the finals' best XI.

Dalot then gained further tournament experience in 2017 when featuring for the Under-20s at the World Cup, starting every match before Portugal were eliminated by Uruguay on penalties in the quarter-finals, in a tournament eventually won by England.

He only made his senior debut for Porto in October 2017 and didn’t appear in the Portuguese Primeira Liga until February 2018 but his early form gave real signs of encouragement and enough evidence to suggest he has a great future ahead.

Given an opportunity to start by Porto coach Sergio Conceicao, Dalot took it with both hands, capping an impressive debut with two assists in a 5-1 thrashing of Portimonense.

His first home outing couldn’t have been much bigger, a mouthwatering clash against title rivals Sporting Lisbon, but Dalot showed no signs of nerves and put in another excellent performance in a 2-1 win which was important on the way to winning the Primeira Liga for a second successive season.

Having illustrated his ability to handle a big occasion, Dalot was thrust into the European spotlight when handed his UEFA Champions League debut against Liverpool in a Round-of-16 second-leg tie at Anfield in March.

Although he was shown a yellow card, and the Portuguese outfit went out following an emphatic 5-0 defeat in the first leg, Dalot looked assured at left-back and helped to keep Liverpool’s goal-filled attack at bay in a goalless draw.

It was in the UEFA Youth League, which has proved hugely beneficial for the development of young United players in the past, where he made his name, having scored two goals and recorded two assists in five appearances in the tournament for Porto’s Under-19s.

A former ball-boy at Porto’s Estadio Do Dragao stadium, Dalot was frequently utilised in midfield and even as a centre-forward during his younger days, which may explain his keen eye for goal.

In total, he scored four times and registered eight assists in total in 33 appearances across various competitions in 2017/18 – the biggest season of his short career to date.

Dalot only made eight appearances for Porto’s senior team before a knee injury cut short what was a promising breakthrough campaign for the no.30. Interestingly, Porto enjoyed a higher league win-rate (83.3 per cent) when Dalot played, compared to 82.1 per cent when he didn’t.

Following the sale of fellow full-back Ricardo Pereira to Leicester City, Porto had high hopes for Dalot to become a permanent fixture for them at right-back but, such has been his meteoric rise, Reds boss Mourinho was understandably keen to bring him to Old Trafford. 

A real prospect who was been catching the eye of Portugal coach Fernando Santos for some time, Dalot is surely not far away from receiving his senior international debut and Euro 2020 could be the stage for him to shine.

In the meantime, he will be hoping to settle into his new surroundings at United ahead of Tour 2018, presented by Aon, in the United States.

The teenager, who could be seen as a long-term successor to Antonio Valencia, adds further strength in depth to United’s defensive ranks and will be aiming to challenge for a starting berth in 2018/19.

Very quick, technically sound, tactically astute and tenacious in his tackles, Dalot has all the attributes to be a huge success for the Reds.