Football Features

Who should Aaron Wan-Bissaka join this summer? Dream, realistic and wildcard options

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:30, 29 June 2022

Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s time at Manchester United appears to be coming to an end.

Signed three years ago in 2019, the English right-back cost the Red Devils a cool £45m. That fee felt large, but reasonable given the potential for Wan-Bissaka to develop into a dominant defensive force for the next decade.

His first season was positive, but there were clearly things he had to do better. His second season saw improvements, substantially so in fact as he shut down Kylian Mbappé and Neymar across two Champions League games.

Despite obvious attacking limitations, he appeared to be a player on the up and only needed to keep improving and wait for United to begin using him in a more tactically intelligent way to truly become a world star.

Unfortunately United never developed that kind (or any kind) of tactical sophistication and Wan-Bissaka began to go backwards. His third season was one of abject misery, with him rarely looking good even in games where he managed to actually play well. His confidence seemed so shattered that he ended up being replaced by Diogo Dalot, a player of staggering mediocrity who looked like Javier Zanetti simply by virtue of being compared to Wan-Bissaka. The Croydon native had fallen that far.

A departure seems inevitable, but to what destination? We’ve had a look and come up with the dream, realistic and wildcard options for Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Dream: Atlético Madrid (12/1)

Wan-Bissaka needs to play for a coach who understands that he is, primarily, a defensive player. Who better than Diego Simeone? The deacon of defending, the duke of the dark-arts, the pharaoh of parking the bus?

Whether playing wing-back or right centre-back in a back three, Cholo would utilise Wan-Bissaka’s skill-set to its fullest potential imaginable. Hell, Simeone is the kind of guy who may even move Wan-Bisssaka into an unnatural position just to do a man-marking job on someone (imagine Wan-Bissaka tasked with shutting Vini Jr. down against Real Madrid then switching to the left against Barcelona to do the same to Ousmane Dembélé?

There’s basically no better place for him to play. No Atleti fan would get on him because he can’t ping a 40 yard crossfield pass like Trent Alexander-Arnold. All they’d ask is that he give everything he has and defend like a lion, two things he has no problem doing. What’s more he’d be back in the Champions League before Manchester United.

A true dream.

Realistic: Crystal Palace (3/1)

Of course, dreams are dreams for a reason; they’re usually out of reach. It’s pure fantasy to imagine Diego Simeone plucks Aaron Wan-Bissaka out of his Manchester hell and rehabilitates him in Madrid.

What’s more realistic is the sad inevitability that he follows Wilfried Zaha’s career path and after a failed stint with Manchester United, trudges back to Crystal Palace looking to repair the broken parts of his reputation.

Tyrick Mitchell is well on his way to establishing himself as the left-back version of Wan-Bissaka under Patrick Vieira’s leadership, so there’s no reason why the legendary Frenchman couldn’t get Wan-Bissaka himself back to his best. What’s more with those two at full-back, opposing wingers would have a hard time getting any change out of Palace.

Then maybe he earns another big move, hopefully to a team that understands what he is and how best to use him, this time.

Wildcard: Roma (4/1)

Of course, sometimes transfers aren’t dreams or realistic, sometimes they’re just weird. They make you go “wait… what?” Well, how about this: Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been linked to Roma, where José Mourinho awaits.

If Diego Simeone is the daddy of defensive coaches then José Mourinho is the granddaddy, the pappy, the old-timer. He’s not as sharp as he once was but every now and again, like in a European final, the old reflexes snap into action. And he remains good on the mic, as he was all through the hysterical nonsense that were his post-Zlatan spell at Manchester United and then his time in charge of Spurs.

Mourinho took Chris Smalling and Tammy Abraham, deemed not up to it by United and Chelsea respectively, and forged them into iconic pillars of his Roma side. Smalling is playing better than he ever has and Tammy is showing that he can cut it in the big leagues.

Could Wan-Bissaka undergo a similar rebirth? He’d be a more defensive option than Rick Karsdorp at wing-back, but could also play right centre-back. Hell, this is Mourinho we’re talking about so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Wan-Bissaka pop up in defensive midfield, Pepé style, with orders to tackle anything not in a Roma shirt.

It would be weird, but it would also be kind of wonderful.