Cadiz CF friendly defeat confirmed Manchester United’s January transfer window priority – George Smith

But there was aspects of United&aposs 4-2 defeat to the Spanish side that will have left manager Erik ten Hag seething. Regardless of the competition or the opposition, Ten Hag, as we all know only too well, demands nothing but the very best from his players.

Considering the 29-man squad he has taken with him to Spain for this week&aposs training camp and two fixtures is made up of mostly youngsters, with the odd dash of experienced talent thrown in, the Dutchman was never going to be able to expect perfection. The bulk of his star players are still in Qatar chasing football&aposs ultimate prize.

However, when the teamsheet was released at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla two-and-a-half hours before kick-off, there were barely any surprises to it, apart from Martin Dubravka starting in goal ahead of David de Gea, who was not even included in the matchday squad. The rest of it was as expected, with the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Scott McTominay, Zidane Iqbal, Alejandro Garnacho and Anthony Martial, who dispatched a first-half penalty, all included in the starting line-up, offering them the chance to store some valuable minutes under their belts ahead of the Carabao Cup clash with Burnley in just under a fortnight&aposs time.

While the clash with Cadiz was an important one for the likes of Lindelof and Martial, who have not played as much as they would have both liked so far this season, albeit for different reasons, it was, for many United fans, considered as last chance saloon for Wan-Bissaka to try and save his Old Trafford career. He, prior to the defeat to Cadiz, had earned just four minutes worth of football so far this season and it quickly became easy to understand why.

After falling 1-0 down inside just eight minutes to Carlos Garcia-Die Sanchez&aposs close-range header, United found themselves further behind just six minutes later. A swift counter-attack down the Spanish side&aposs left-wing opened the Reds up, allowing striker Anthony Lozano to bury a low shot past Dubravka from inside the penalty area.

The goal stemmed from Cadiz breaking at speed down their left and doubling up on Wan-Bissaka. While he is usually strong defending one-v-one, he has always had a tendency to fail to spot others making runs off the ball. That was what happened on this occasion and his lack of awareness cost United dearly, just as they were looking to try and recover from falling one goal down.

In Wan-Bissaka&aposs defence, it was impossible to ignore the fact that he had played for just four minutes this season, that coming as a late substitute in the Reds&apos 2-1 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford back in August, meaning he lacked match sharpness. However, on the flip side, it was a moment that highlighted why that has been the case.

He went missing and was miles off the pace. He looked almost shocked by the fact he was playing football again.

But considering it was his first-ever start under Ten Hag, and that it came in a friendly against La Liga&aposs second-from-bottom side, it only provided further evidence to suggest that his United career is as good as over. His right-back counterpart Diogo Dalot has excelled this season, meaning it has been an uphill struggle since the start of the campaign for the former Crystal Palace man. He has regressed while Dalot has made rapid progress.

Ten Hag&aposs thoughts on Wan-Bissaka, in truth, became clear when Dalot was suspended for the trip to Fulham in United&aposs last competitive fixture prior to the start of the World Cup. The Dutchman preferred left-back Tyrell Malacia in Dalot&aposs absence over a right-back by trade.

Wan-Bissaka, who was taken off at half-time against Cadiz, along with the ten other outfield players who started, is not at the standard Ten Hag expects, meaning United must do all they can to offload him in January and source a suitable replacement to provide competition for Dalot at right-back. The latter is still at the World Cup with Portugal, and depending on how far they go in the tournament, combined with the amount of football he has played for United already this season, he risks burning out.

United can ill-afford to be without a suitable back-up option. Wan-Bissaka, unfortunately, is not that man.

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