Eighteen months into his career at Old Trafford, Aaron Wan-Bissaka is already an established pillar of Manchester United’s defence.
His no-nonsense style has stifled many Premier League attackers and earned the 23-year-old rave reviews as the division’s most-tenacious tackler.
After a decade of instability for United at right-back, Wan-Bissaka has made the position his own, coping with the magnitude of playing for one of the biggest clubs in world football the only way he knows how – staying true to himself.
“There is always pressure for every player who moves clubs when it comes to what a new club expects and how you settle in,” he exclusively told Sky Sports. “But with this club it all came in one, I knew there was pressure.
“As a kid all you can do at a club like this is play week in, week out. The main thing was to play without fear and be myself, and the rest would be blocked out.”
Wan-Bissaka’s fearsome reputation took root at Crystal Palace and has been a defining characteristic of his time at Manchester United, where it continues to be harnessed.
Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s watch, Wan-Bissaka’s strengths have been identified, his defensive craft finetuned, resulting in the emergence of a player with not only flawless technique, but a heightened sense of when to commit to a challenge.
“Towards the age 17 onwards was when that [my tackling] got recognised, and since then I have focused on that more and added more to my game,” he added.
“Usually, before that, if someone wanted to take me on, I’d tackle them, now I’ll go and tackle them regardless. It’s been about learning to take control of those situations, rather than waiting for them.”
For all of his defensive exploits a criticism that continues to be levelled at Wan-Bissaka, in light of the offensive qualities of his Premier League counterparts, is the disparity between the effectiveness of his attacking game and defensive duties.
Wan-Bissaka may have doubled his career goals tally with the opener in Manchester United’s 9-0 demolition of Southampton on Tuesday, but with 55 Premier League appearances yielding just two goals and five assists, it’s an aspect of his game he is keen to improve.
“That’s why I came to this club,” Wan-Bissaka added. “This club is capable of helping me with that. I want to become a better player every year.
“I don’t really focus on statistics at the time, but at the end of the season I look back and see if it’s better than the previous season, and the season before that.”
Wan-Bissaka may have chosen to approach life at Old Trafford in his own, distinct way, but the overall objective is a familiar, if somewhat forgotten, one at Manchester United, and that’s delivering a Premier League title and sustained success beyond.
“Of course, [winning the Premier League is the target], and a few cups to go with that as well,” he added.
“It would mean a lot, especially after the club’s history of winning trophies, and a lot of them. It would be good to get back that.
“The mood in the camp has been good. It wasn’t great taking in the loss [to Sheffield United] but we haven’t let it get us down or our chances to get our hands on the Premier League.
“Team spirit is still high, as long as we stick together, we can go back to the form we had before.”
Just as players have been forced to think twice about taking on Wan-Bissaka on the pitch, so too should those thinking of doubting the objectives he has set out, for a continuation of United’s revival against Everton on Saturday may just lead to the realisation of a title challenge eight years in the making.