The impressive performances of Bayern Munich’s Austrian full-back David Alaba have arguably gone under the radar in recent seasons.
Once regarded as one of the best left-backs in the world, let alone in Europe, the Austrian has seen his reputation fade somewhat in recent seasons.
David Alaba’s accolades
Alaba has won 19 major honours since making his competitive debut for the Bavarians ten years ago. The list includes nine Bundesliga titles, five German Cup triumphs, two German Super Cups, the 2013 Champions League and the 2013 editions of the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup.
He appeared in UEFA’s Team of the Year in three successive seasons between 2013 and 2015, before being replaced by Leonardo Bonucci in 2016. Marcelo took Bonucci’s spot the following two seasons, before Andrew Robertson claimed the position last year.
Alaba was also named in FIFA’s FIFPro World XI second team in consecutive campaigns between 2013 and 2016. He was seen as second fiddle to former teammate Philipp Lahm between 2013 and 2014, and the aforementioned Marcelo between 2015 and 2016.
Manchester United move?
Despite being overlooked in recent individual UEFA and FIFA awards, the 28-year-old is still a terrific player. He should certainly be a guaranteed starter for almost every side in the world, including Manchester United, who have been linked with the Austrian international.
The defender has allegedly rejected the opportunity to extend his current contract beyond the expiration date of June 2021, making him a potential free agent next summer.
According to The Metro, Bayern are looking to offload the defender in the immediate transfer window to avoid next summer’s free departure. The report speculated Alaba could be making his way to the Premier League, with Old Trafford the likely destination.
What could David Alaba bring to Man United?
The Vienna-born defender can play almost anywhere on the pitch. He has prominently featured at left-back for the most part of his Bayern career, but has also played in a variety of wide and central defensive-midfield positions on international duty.
His versatility makes him an excellent option for United, considering the injury concerns over left-back Luke Shaw and the inexperience of his replacement Brandon Williams.
The Austrian would certainly provide an upgrade for the English duo, due to his superior experience in European tournaments and international pedigree too. Alaba also has a wand of a left foot and is renowned for his ability to whip dangerous deliveries into the box from the final third.
Like Bruno Fernandes, Alaba would also be a threat from dead-ball situations. He can find teammates and has an eye for goal, with ten of his 31 goals for Die Roten, coming direct from free-kicks.
He has been utilised as a centre-back for the vast majority of this campaign. It is a position he has excelled over time for manager Hans-Dieter Flick, under the guidance of his defensive-partner and fellow-converted full-back Jérôme Boateng.
The Austrian initially struggled in the role under previous boss Niko Kovač, enduring a torrid 90 minutes as the side conceded five goals against Eintracht Frankfurt – his first game at centre-back this term.
However, he has adapted into the position and developed in confidence, thanks to the increasingly-reliable Alphonso Davies, who has taken on the reins at left-back.
Due to Davies seemingly easing the burden, David Alaba has been able to focus attention on his defensive duties alongside Boateng, and has helped to keep 13 clean sheets in 28 league appearances.
United defensive unit
Ole Gunnar Solskjær‘s men boasted the Premier League’s third-best defensive record this season by conceding 36 goals, with the world-record acquisition of Harry Maguire appearing to pay dividends.
They allowed crosses into the area, enabled players to arrive unmarked and conceded five goals overall, as they were eliminated from both competitions.
Alaba’s presence would have undoubtedly benefitted the side. His pace, combined with his experience as a wide defender, would have enabled him to assess the danger from the flanks, read where the ball would be going, and get into the ideal positions to cope centrally.
He would have reacted to the instinctive runs of Olivier Giroud and Luuk de Jong respectively, and his pace would have enabled him to get goal-side and make a last-ditch challenge.
However, for all his plaudits, he has been susceptible on the odd rare occasion against illustrious opposition, scoring an own-goal in their 8-2 rout of Barcelona.
Time will tell whether a possible U-turn is on the cards for David Alaba at Bayern, especially with the increased likelihood of Champions League silverware this campaign.
However, if the Austrian wants to accept a new challenge, United would be the ideal outfit, considering they have finished trophyless for the third successive season and are enduring their longest run without a title in 31 years.
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