United’s capture of the Italian National is both shrewd and spectacular. For the wealth of positions he plays, a price tag of a 14 Million might yet seem a bargain for United’s new Right back.
Some of the best defenders in recent Premier League history have arrived to minimal fanfare and for relatively small fees; United alone can point to Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra in that regard. Darmian arrives at Old Trafford similarly under the radar, but he certainly has the potential to develop into a similarly important player for the Red Devils, assuming he is given an initial pass to adjust to the Premier League
1. He plies a plethora of positions
Whilst United might be giddy with the thought of having quality depth in their full back positions, Darmian represents more than just a dual-sided fullback. Marshalling the full back positions brought him plaudits from the football community, however his ability to switch seamlessly was one that really impressed onlookers.
During the 2014 World Cup, Darmian started every game as a right back, and was one of the few players to exit that tournament with his reputation in tact. His performances against England in particular, where he gave Kyle Walker a real run around, are an obvious testament to his talent, and an encouraging sign of what he can bring against premier league opposition.
At Torino, he was deployed as a Left Wing Back, Right Wing Back, Right Central Defender and a Left midfield. The variety of positions fits suits Van Gaal, who has re-iterated his affinity for diversely deployable players. Moreover, it gives the Dutchman freedom to experiment with different formations, if the situation necessitates it.
While this might herald the return of the controversial 3-5-2, Van Gaal will have now have a larger group of players to successfully apply a plethora of tactics and formations.
2-He is a Champions League Winner
Technically, Darmian is a Champions League Winner’s medal with AC Milan. When Milan defeated Liverpool in 2007, Darmian was an unused squad member for the Rossoneri, accruing to his tender age of 17.
He was however, one of Milan’s most prodigious academy members. Trained by the historic duo of Allesandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini, Darmian was viewed as the future of the Italian defence, combining an old school sense of discipline, with the necessary athleticism of a modern full-back.
So far, Darmian has been repaying the faith shown in him by his enamoured predecessors, yet he is quick to rubbish any comparisons.
Though Torino didn’t manage any European football during the time Darmian plied his trade, the full-back nonetheless in accustomed to the highest of demands. His steady upward development at Torino has enabled him to solidify his place in the Italian National defence, as he’s served as the team’s starting right-back for a year and a half, despite being the youngest member of their defence.
3-He is equally effective at each end of the pitch
Though not producing the numbers that Roberto Carlos and John Terry managed, Darmian has steadily increased his contributions to the attacking third.
Known for bombing up and down the flank for the full 90, Darmian netted in 5 goals in the Serie-A last season, the second most by a full back in any of Europe’s top leagues.
United fans will be buoyed by this, as Valencia’s runs and predictable touch-line inefficiency acquired an unwanted commonplace down United’s right flank. Moreover, his natural tendency to overlap, and make space by dribbling centrally opens up a diverse range of attacking options. His ability to time his runs makes up for his less than average athleticism, as he finds himself in crucial attacking positions, at crucial points of the game.
4- His disciplinary record is near spotless
To those United fans frustrated by Rafael’s constant bursts of anger, Darmian will come as an assured breath of fresh air.
In his last five years in the Serie-A, he accrued only 10 Yellow cards and not a single red. In contrast, Rafael’s 3 red cards an 20 Yellows show the gulf in composure that will surely have Darmian as the first choice Right Back.
Darmian’s discipline is also maintained by the fact, that he rarely off-time when it comes to tackling. In the 2012/13 and 13/14 seasons, Darmian averaged 5.4 successful tackles per game, the highest of any full-back across Europe’s main leagues.
Timely interceptions and quick recovery have largely become part of Darmian’s Modus Operandi.
His method of functioning and his effectiveness, often fly under the radar, yet produce results when they matter the most.
With Rafael’s injury record worsening consistently, Darmian looks the much fitter and assured choice at Right Back.
5- He speaks good English
While the language of football is ‘universal’, to an extent, language barriers serve as one of the biggest obstacles. In Darmian’s case however, language will not serve as such a stumbling block. In an interview with MachesterUnited.com, Darmian answered all the questions in plain and simple english, referring only to his translator to convey Italian sayings. His English at present, is on par with Rafael’s, who has been living in Manchester for the last 6 years.
With the common latin origin, Spanish and Italian do share linguistic similarities. Such similarities will bode well at United, who boast an increasing contigent of spanish speaking players, with six first team players using it as their first language.
His ability to convey ideas and ideals in English, shows that he is ready to hit the ground running at Old Trafford.
Torino’s president, Urbano Cairo was unwilling to let him go, after losing Cerci and Immobile last season. He ultimately realised that his potential could only be realised at a bigger club, and wished him nothing but success.
I promised him we would review his situation this summer. Football is like this and ita s normal that an extraordinary man like Matteo wants to try and win the Champions League. Torino cana t win the Champions League
Though his crossing ability remains a shortcoming to his overall game, it is but a solitary drawback.
Like Schneiderlin and Herrera, Darmian’s ablities are on an upward trajectory. Given the right conditions, as well as the training of an astute taskmaster like Van Gaal, Darmian can quickly serve as one of United’s most important players in the coming season.
As the hype around the former Torino full-back reaches a crescendo, United’s faithful must keep their expectation in check. However, as the Italian National Team’s Player of the Year, Darmian’s hype is more than justified as he sets to set the shores of England alight.