Who: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
From Where: Crystal Palace
To Where: Manchester United
For How Much: £50m
Grade for Manchester United: A-
Grade for Crystal Palace: B-
Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United Overview
Manchester United march on with their summer overhaul as they’re set to make their second signing: Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
AWB has been linked to Man U for a couple of months. United’s backline was anywhere from bad to atrocious in 2018-19. Targeting defensive support was a top off-season priority. Man U land one of the more talented and well-regarded defenders on the market.
With AWB and the Daniel James signing, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues reshapings his squad younger and potentially more dynamic.
Who is he?
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 21, is regarded as one of the top young right backs in England.
Called up to Crystal Palace’s first team in 2017-18 (7 appearances), he made 35 EPL appearances last campaign. His WhoScore rating places his in Trent Alexander-Arnold territory, although for completely different reasons.
Where TAA is an offensive fulcrum who led Liverpool in assists last year, AWB is a defensive force. He excels at tackling, intercepting, and blocking and rarely makes mistakes. At 6’0, he’s strong on aerials too.
He’s got room though to grow into more a TAA player too. Wan-Bissaka is an excellent dribbler / penetrator, but is a poor at passing / crossing. His 73% pass success rate has room for improvement. If his passing improves (he had just 3 assists last campaign), he can jump-start counters with penetrating dribbles into the attacking third.
Is the price fair?
At first, it felt like a “Manchester United tax” was assessed here. Wan-Bissaka has just over 40 top flight domestic caps to his credit. He’s a right back. That’s a steep price.
However, United didn’t really overpay that much given the current market. Initial reports pegged the deal at £55m. New reports suggest the deal is closer to £50m with only £45m up front. Transfermarkt lists AWB’s value at £35m. It’s an over-pay, yes. But it’s not horrible.
Assuming Wan-Bissaka continues to perform at a high-level defensively and improves his servicing on through-balls and crosses, this is a great price. He’s 21. He’ll improve.
Ultimately, United get a top 4 EPL right-back before he hits his prime. That’s a smart investment.
What impact should we expect?
Without question, AWB is one of the top young players on the transfer market.
Wan-Bissaka is an immediate upgrade defensively over an out-of-position Ashley Young or Matteo Darmian. Yes, United need a capable center-back as well. But Rome wasn’t built in a day.
While United will see immediate defensive improvements on the right side, they’d be wise to invest in AWB’s offensive development. He’s a skilled penetrator, and gradual progress on his servicing will eventually aid the attack. If OGS wants to build more from the back, AWB is a piece that will serve that goal.
If Man U don’t sell Romelu Lukaku or Paul Pogba, this deal means they only have another £35m-ish to spend. So make no mistake, Wan-Bissaka needs to make an immediate impact. He’s nearly half the budget.
Still, we give Man U an “A-” for the deal. For the price, it would’ve been wiser to have targeted a center-back who could steady the whole defense. However, they landed one of England’s top transfer targets and didn’t overspend for him. If you’re a United fan, you have to be encouraged with OGS’ purchases so far. He’s going young. He’s going for players who remind him of teammates from Man U’s glory years.
For Crystal Palace, the “B-” is for not leveraging Manchester United’s desperation to land young building blocks for an extra £5-10m. Could they have struck a deal for, say, £35m, but getting a loan back for one more year of his service? United wasn’t coming at this from a position of strength. They could’ve gotten more.