We profile new Manchester United full-back Matteo Darmian after he signed a four-year deal to complete his move to Old Trafford from Torino.
What’s his background?
After progressing through the youth system at AC Milan, the talented full-back failed to break into the first team and was snapped up by Palermo in a co-ownership deal with Milan after a fruitful loan spell at Serie B club Padova.
However, injuries restricted his progress at Palermo - he finished the 2010/2011 season having made just 16 appearances - before being loaned out to Torino at the start of next season, where his career really started to take off.
He made the right-back spot his own that season, which triggered Torino to stump up £500,000 to acquire his services from Palmero and Milan.
In the 2013/14 season he played 37 games in Serie A for Torino and made the league’s team of the season before playing a huge part in the club’s historic run to the last 16 of the Europa League last season, where they were knocked out narrowly by Zenit.
Darmian may ring a bell with English football fans from the 2014 World Cup, where he played in all of Italy’s games as they bowed out in the group stages. He was one of the few shining lights in that tournament for the Italians, playing a key role in the 2-1 victory over England in the opening match.
He took advantage of England's part-time left-winger Danny Welbeck’s lack of defensive know-how to put pressure on full-back Leighton Baines and it was from the right flank where the crucial winning goal – scored by Mario Balotelli – came from. He has won 13 caps for Italy.
What are his strengths?
His progression from the days when AC Milan deemed him not good enough has been quite remarkable.
Darmian's positional awareness at full-back along with his ability to get up and down the line at pace make him a tough nut to crack for opposition wingers. He can also play as a centre-back when required.
It’s this explosive pace that has alerted some of the big clubs from around Europe as Darmian can provide width going forwards.
Van Gaal is a big believer in this tactic and Darmian would certainly add another dimension to the United attack – something which was missing last season through makeshift full-back Antonio Valencia, whose defensive attributes were targeted by opposition attackers last season.
Darmian on the right and a fully-fit Luke Shaw on the left would be an exciting proposition for United fans.