Diogo Dalot has seen his chances of leaving Manchester United fade after the terms of his proposed January exit became a sticking point, according to reports.
Dalot returned to Man Utd in the summer following a loan spell with AC Milan. He built up plenty of experience in Italy after injury issues had forced him to be patient during his first two seasons in the Premier League.
But despite showing what he could do in Serie A, the full-back has faced further problems since his return to Old Trafford. He is currently behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the pecking order at right-back.
Dalot has not yet started a Premier League game this season. Consequently, he has been linked away from the club again. The man who took him to Manchester in the first place, Jose Mourinho, wants to reunite with him at Roma.
The move would allow Dalot to return to Italy, where he made a good impression last season. It would also fix a key issue for Mourinho in the squad he inherited over the summer.
There has thus been growing optimism in Italy that a deal can be done that will suit all parties. However, doubts have now begun to emerge.
According to Gazzetta Dello Sport, the Red Devils and Roma are not on the same page over Dalot. The Serie A side want to take him on loan with the option, rather than obligation to buy. They are also not enthusiastic about meeting his €15m asking price.
Tuttomercatoweb have indicated something similar. They also deny United would let Dalot go out on loan. But the report does hint that could change if they can sign someone like Kieran Trippier as a replacement.
Trippier was a target for Man Utd over the summer after winning La Liga with Atletico Madrid. He remains on their radar but it all depends on the dominoes that would fall if Dalot leaves.
It remains to be seen whether Roma will agree to United’s requests for an obligatory purchase clause in any loan for Dalot.
The two clubs, of course, have history when it comes to difficult negotiations. They wrestled over the future of Chris Smalling after his successful loan spell in Rome in the 2019-20 season, taking things down to the wire to agree a permanent deal.
Now they may have to find another compromise when it comes to Dalot. He is under contract at Old Trafford until 2023. Next year, therefore, will be critical for deciding his future.
A suitor is there if Man Utd are ready to offload him. But they clearly have some differences to resolve first.
Dalot discusses Man Utd return
In an interview with the Telegraph over the weekend, Dalot reflected on his struggles to make an instant impact at Man Utd and why he left last season.
The full-back confirmed his aim was to become “important” for his parent club. Last season equipped him with the regularity he needed to prepare for such a challenge.
“I had two struggling years with my body,” he said. “My body was changing and I had some injuries and needed to step up to get to the other players’ level in terms of fitness. It wasn’t growing pains.
“You adapt, then you get injured and when you return the team is at a high level of intense training, playing games. I was probably pushing too much and my body was not dealing very well with that adapting.
“That is why I knew last season was massive for me. My body was feeling those changes and when I went to Milan it was perfect to balance everything and return to this season. That is why I wanted to stay here, fight for games and be an important player for the team.
“I wanted to stay here and the club trusted me to stay here. My mind was completely focused on having an important role in this team.”
Only time will tell what Dalot’s plans are for January now that he is struggling to get past Wan-Bissaka in the hierarchy.
For now, though, he is happy that they can both learn from each other.
“The most beautiful and healthy competition is when there are two or three for each position and you can learn from each other,” he said.
“I’m sure Aaron learns some things from me when I play. I learn from him. Everyone is going to be a part of it this season.”
If Mourinho has his way, though, Dalot may not be a part of Man Utd for the full season after all.