Alex Telles arrived at Manchester United in the summer of 2020 boasting the potential to become a key component in a Red Devils side that was eager to get on the front foot. Competition for a left-back berth would be provided by Luke Shaw, but a starting berth was very much up for grabs.
A new arrival from Porto, it appeared, fit the mould when it came to modern-day defenders. While his main job was to keep opponents out, an impressive return of 26 goals and 57 assists across four years in Portugal suggested that he was just as productive going the other way.
🇧🇷 Alex Telles is in the Brazil squad for the @FIFAWorldCup! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/IK3nqLIP4S— Sevilla FC (@SevillaFC_ENG) November 7, 2022
Said qualities were always going to be embraced by the Brazil national team, where everyone is expected to be good on the ball and forward-thinking in their mindset, with Telles earning a place in a Selecao squad this year that sits at 7/2 in odds to win World Cup 2022.
Said standing has been secured as a result of exploits taken in away from Old Trafford, rather than on hallowed turf at the Theatre of Dreams. United deemed Telles to be surplus to requirements during the last transfer window.
With further additions made to a defensive unit inherited by Dutch coach Erik ten Hag, an ambitious South American was allowed to leave for Sevilla on a season-long loan. Having been restricted to just 50 outings through two years in England, such a move made sense to all concerned.
Telles has been a regular in Spain and generally caught the eye of a team that is preparing for another shot at Europa League glory in 2023 despite enduring uncharacteristic struggles in La Liga that have them languishing inside the relegation zone.
The expectation is that they will get their act together at some stage and start to pull away from danger, with there more than enough talent at Jorge Sampaoli’s disposal. Telles falls into that category and could return to domestic action at the turn of the year as a world champion – which would offer another boost to morale that had started to erode in Manchester.
He has said of his plans for the immediate future: “The club [Sevilla] and the fans have given me a lot of confidence. I will give my best here and I don’t know what will happen next year.” That is the big question that still needs to be answered.
To everyone at United: colleagues, staff, fans. I will be supporting and cheering you on all season. Thanks for the moments so far. ❤️Alex Telles. @ManUtd pic.twitter.com/vXBv3PngwF— Alex Telles (@AT13Oficial) August 4, 2022
If Telles were to potentially help his country to global glory in Qatar, secure another continental crown for Sevilla and generally enhance his reputation over the second half of the season, it would be a bold call by those in Manchester to sanction a permanent switch elsewhere.
There are, however, more options in his preferred position at Old Trafford now than when he first arrived, with Shaw still doing the business and preparing for a World Cup quest of his own with England. With that in mind, and Telles understandably keen to avoid seeing his career slip into reverse again, it may be that his face does not fit for Ten Hag regardless of what he achieves in the remainder of the 2022-23 campaign.