With his experience and versatility, Matteo Darmian can be relied upon, whenever selected for defensive duty.
Providing solidity and discipline, the Italian represents a useful option at the back, even if the Italian’s career at Old Trafford has been blighted by a number of long-term injuries and, over the years, he has struggled to maintain a consistent run of games in the starting XI.
With World Cup experience for the Azzurri under his belt, he represented AC Milan, Padova, Palermo and Torino in his homeland and actually made his debut for Milan as a raw 16-year-old. With his country steeped in the tradition of defending with resilience and organisation, he has had the perfect upbringing.
Darmian was one of United’s first arrivals in the summer of 2015, during Louis van Gaal’s spell in charge, making the same journey from Torino that United legend Denis Law made 53 years earlier, to become the fifth Italian to represent the Reds. He immediately looked at home in the right-back spot, gaining many plaudits for his wholehearted defending and adventurous forays further up the field. Indeed, he won the Player of the Month award during his opening weeks at Old Trafford, such was his eye-catching introduction to English football.
His first major setback occurred when he suffered a dislocated shoulder against Sunderland in February, but Darmian still ended his debut season with almost 40 appearances for the Reds, scoring a belter against Crystal Palace to register his first goal for the club. In the following campaign, he was outstanding in the Europa League final against Ajax, surely the most important match of the entire season. During 2017/18, the Italian played a vital role in United's cup ventures. He featured regularly in United's FA Cup run to Wembley and played in the semi-final against Tottenham. He also was a key figure in the League Cup and the Champions League, and consistently provided dependable performances when called upon.
In 2018/19, he featured in seven games and was tried in a central defensive slot by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, earning the Man-of-the-Match award in the Emirates FA Cup win over Reading.
He was also entrusted with starts against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City, which supported the view that he has the temperament for such big occasions, even despite a lack of match action.