Man Utd reluctant to activate option on critical player who’s started every match for Ten Hag, as grander plan emerges

Man Utd players Diogo Dalot and Christian Eriksen

Man Utd are hesitant to trigger the one-year option of Barcelona target Diogo Dalot, with a trusted source revealing grander plans are afoot.

The Portuguese right-back, 23, is quickly becoming an indispensable part of Erik ten Hag’s plans. Dalot has been on Manchester United’s books since 2018, though it wasn’t until last season he truly found his feet.

Upon returning from a stellar loan spell at AC Milan, Dalot split minutes almost equally with Aaron Wan-Bissaka last term.

When Ten Hag arrived, the common consensus was Dalot would emerge victorious in the battle for gametime given his greater attacking tendencies.

That theory has proved true, with Dalot starting all eight of United’s matches across all competitions this season. In contrast, Wan-Bissaka has accrued just four minutes of action.

However, Dalot’s development has not gone unnoticed.

Reports in Spain claimed Dalot tops Barcelona boss Xavi’s shortlist of right-back targets. The fact Dalot is not tied down to a long-term contract at Old Trafford is emboldening their belief a deal can be made.

Dalot’s current deal expires next summer and there’s been confusion as to whether Man Utd hold an option to extend it by 12 months.

Now, speaking via his YouTube channel, Fabrizio Romano has cleared the fog.

Romano dispels contract myth

The transfer specialist stated Man Utd do hold a club option, though why they don’t want to activate it has been revealed.

“There is an option to extend his contract for one more season,” said Romano.

“We’ve had many stories on many players having this option [at Man Utd]. We know this is the case for Rashford for example, but many say ‘no, there is no option for Dalot.’

“This is not true. There is an option for Man Utd to activate one more year, so potentially the contract is to June 2024.

“Man Utd are not stupid, they see Dalot is doing fantastic and so they could be ready to activate the option.

“But they’ll only activate the option if they’re unable to reach an agreement with Dalot over a new [long-term] contract.”

When could extension come?

Per Romano, Man Utd hope to sign Dalot down to a long-term extension. That would reflect his growing influence at the club and his importance to Ten Hag.

Explaining when that breakthrough might come, Romano suggested after the World Cup.

“There has been contact for a long time, very good relationship [between player and club],” he added.

“But at the moment it’s still not a case of Man Utd making a final proposal to extend the contract, so it’ll take some time.

“I think after the World Cup United will decide on many players – including Diogo Dalot.”

Dalot United’s right-back for the next decade?

Dalot is an increasingly influential figure at Old Trafford and his attacking tendencies perfectly suit Ten Hag’s style of play.

He is more than comfortable on the ball and is capable of handling himself in one-v-ones at both ends of the pitch.

What’s more, his tally of Portugal caps now stand at nine. He bagged a brace against the Czech Republic on Saturday.

He’s clearly earned the trust of Ten Hag given his run of starts. If United were to sign a new right-back in the coming windows, it stands to reason they’d replace Wan-Bissaka as chief-back-up, not Dalot as starter.