Matteo Darmian has confirmed that he will remain at Manchester United for the 2017/18 campaign despite attracting interest from several Serie A sides over the summer.
Napoli, Inter Milan and Roma have pin-pointed Darmian as a potential target for some time; Juventus made a formal offer for the 27-year-old as a replacement for the outgoing Dani Alves, but Jose Mourinho was adamant that he wouldn’t let the Italian leave the club with Luke Shaw still on the sidelines.
Darmian enjoyed a promising start to life at Old Trafford after arriving in the summer of 2015 but quickly regressed following a galling 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in October. He struggled for minutes during large parts of the season and found himself initially on the periphery under Mourinho before forcing his way into the team during the Christmas period.
And the full-back, speaking soon after United’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in Skopje, insisted that he was focused on maintaining his place in Mourinho’s starting XI over the next few months.
“In difficult moments, I always worked hard and tried to take every opportunity I had,” he said.
“Last season I did end up playing my games, it was a good end to the campaign and I am building on that.
“Nobody likes to lose, especially when there is an important trophy up for grabs. We wanted to start strong, but instead only really got into the game towards the end and unfortunately missed a potential equaliser.
“I’m pleased that Manchester United consider me to be off the market, just as I’m pleased by the interest of Italian clubs.
“In any case, there was never anything concrete, so there’s no point talking about the transfer market. I see myself at Manchester United, I’m happy here.”
Darmian often came across as bereft of muscle and initiative during Van Gaal’s tumultuous final campaign, but his renaissance under Mourinho cannot be underestimated. He offers little going forward but promises disciplined, tidy performances – as shown in emphatic fashion in the Europa League final – on each side of defence and can play in a back three.
He may not grab too many headlines this year, but Mourinho clearly values the solidity he brings to the United lineup whenever handed the chance.