Manchester United defender Ethan Laird has unclear future amid Aaron Wan-Bissaka resurgence
There’s nothing quite like a comeback story in football: a player back from the dead, better than ever after being written off. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was put up for sale by Manchester United last year, but now he’s just reached the FA Cup final after a masterclass in how how to defend against Kauro Mitoma.
The 25-year-old is very much back in the picture – his exceptional one-v-one defending now coupled with an attacking game which continues to evolve under Erik ten Hag. United’s number 29 has battled for a starting spot with Diogo Dalot over the course of the season, wrestling his way back in post-World Cup and grasping the do-or-die opportunity with both hands.
And yet, the right-back picture at Old Trafford is still up in the air. Jeremie Frimpong of Bayer Leverkusen and Inter Milan’s Denzel Dumfries have both been linked with summer moves to United. Reports have already indicated that club captain Harry Maguire could move on in the upcoming window, along with Eric Bailly, Alex Telles and Brandon Williams.
Another player’s future to clearly consider, though, is that of Ethan Laird. Snapped up by Queens Park Rangers last summer, the full-back has made 30 appearances for the Rs – with 28 of those starts. It’s been a turbulent season for the 21-year-old, who has played under three different managers in Michael Beale, Neil Critchley and now Gareth Ainsworth.
A handful of clubs were vying for the loan capture of Laird last August, but he chose Loftus Road over other destinations. It has been another season of learning for the speedster, who represented Swansea City and AFC Bournemouth last campaign. The player is back fit for the Championship run-in, after a hamstring injury in February ruled him out of action for six weeks.
On the former incident, Ainsworth said: “Even though there were frustrations from some fans – without knowing the full story or the full facts – I was disappointed that there were a few boos when he came off. I hope they were not aimed at Ethan. He gave everything and that’s all you want from your players. The boy couldn’t run any more because it was his first game after a few months out. I am in awe of him for doing that.”
Throw into the mix QPR’s dismal season – having started on fire but ended up battling relegation – and Laird will likely need to reflect this summer, then find his feet once again. He is out of contract at Old Trafford, but United do have a one-year option which they can trigger.
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