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Alex Telles and Manchester United

Manchester United brought in 27-year-old left-back Alex Telles in the summer 2020 transfer window. Although the transfer looked interesting at first glance, the player was not a good fit for the English team.

Alex Telles/

Telles came to United for a reported €15 million after playing 11,000 minutes over the previous four seasons in FC Porto. In that time, he managed to score 19 goals and assisted a further 35.

However, most of his goals had come from penalties or set-pieces - 12 from penalties, 3 from set-pieces and only 4 from open play. The same goes for assists - from the open play, he averaged only 3 per season.

15 goals from penalties and set-pieces

Only 4 goals from the open play

Four-season comparison of assists from set-pieces (top) and from the open play (bottom)

At United, however, Bruno Fernandes was an uncontested set-piece taker, and Telles would lose much of his offensive contribution forfeiting his set-piece duties.

Defensively, Telles didn't stand out at Porto. Despite playing for a dominant team, he had a below-average success rate in ground duels and was mediocre at best in the vast majority of important defensive metrics.

At the end of the 21/22 season, Telles had 2,157 minutes of play with a 0g+4a record. Of the 4 assists, 3 of them were from the corner.

At the same time, Konstantinos Tsimikas (Liverpool, 24 years old at the time of the transfer) and Marc Cucurella (Brighton, 21 years old) moved to the English Premier League for a similar transfer fee. The high potential was fulfilled especially by the latter, who was one of the best left-backs in the Premier League in the 21/22 season at the age of 23.

Marc Cucurella, season 21/22, Premier League

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