Aaron Wan-Bissaka single-handedly put Neymar & Mbappe into lockdown
After scoring his first goal for Manchester United last weekend, Aaron Wan-Bissaka reverted back to what he knows best against PSG – making forwards’ nights misery.
Wan-Bissaka being an excellent defender isn’t exactly breaking news. In fact, we even wrote about his
unnecessary absolutely necessary slide tackles earlier this year.
But stopping the likes of Son Heung-min and Raheem Sterling is one thing, dealing with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe is a different equation entirely.
Defenders have been known to have nightmares about facing Mbappe, while Neymar doesn’t need an invitation before humiliating a poor, helpless opponent.
But Wan-Bissaka is no run of the mill defender and doesn’t suffer fools gladly, as the pair soon found out in United’s 2-1 victory at PSG this week.
After playing in the Europa League in 2019-20, the right-back got his first taste of Europe’s elite competition at the Parc des Princes.
While some players would drown after being thrown in at the deep end, Wan-Bissaka was essentially relaxing on a lilo against last season’s beaten finalists.
Despite wearing a kit that resembled a prison uniform, it was the former Crystal Palace star who had PSG’s star forwards under lock and key all game.
Faced with the world’s most expensive player in the early stages, Wan-Bissaka showed no respect for reputations and refused to be Neymar’s latest victim, keeping his eye on the ball before making a well-timed challenge.
Neymar’s repertoire of skills undoubtedly makes for some brilliant YouTube compilations, but the full-back showed that world-class defending also has it’s own entertainment value.
That moment set the tone for the rest of the game, with the defender’s spider-like legs becoming a magnet for the ball.
After continually frustrating the Brazil international, Wan-Bissaka then switched his attentions to Mbappe and didn’t seem fazed by the daunting task.
While most defenders stand off the World Cup winner, he relished the one-v-one battle, making some key blocks and tackles.
“I love tackles man, I want to come out with the most tackles from each game,” Wan-Bissaka told Manchester United’s official website in 2019. “I’m not really happy when I come out of a game without many tackles.”
AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini famously had a slightly different mindset – “If I have to make a tackle then I have already made a mistake” – and was probably frothing at the mouth when Wan-Bissaka used a dangerous strategy to stop Moise Kean in the second half.
With the scores level at 1-1, logic dictates you probably shouldn’t tackle an opponent from behind on the edge of your own penalty area.
Most players would panic and mistime a last-ditch challenge but Wan-Bissaka was in complete control and had confidence in his own conviction.
Like a Venus flytrap, he waited until the very last moment before snapping into the challenge and taking his unfortunate prey by surprise.
The England Under-21 international continues to enhance his burgeoning reputation, frustrating and nullifying Europe’s best forwards in the process.
At this stage, there are just three certainties in life. Death, taxes and Wan-Bissaka winning the ball back with one of those long legs.