Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo asked him to be patient with right-back Diogo Dalot who was struggling to adapt to life at the Manchester club.
Dalot signed for United in 2019 for £19million from Porto but after some disappointing performances, he was sent on loan to AC Milan for a year.
The Portuguese has been one of Man Utd’s most important players as Erik Ten Hag’s troops continue to fight for the top-four spot in the Premier League.
The 24-year-old made 32 appearances for the 20-time PL champions this season and has two goals and three assists to his name.
Ferdinand was one of those who always had doubts about Dalot’s abilities and the former centre-back revealed in an interview that Ronaldo always urged him to not worry about the right-back.
“Dalot needs a special mention,” Ferdinand said on Vibe with Five after Man Utd beat Aston Villa where Dalot assisted Scott McTominay who scored the winner.
“He is someone I doubted early on. I remember speaking to Cristiano Ronaldo and said, ‘Is he really that good?’ — and Cristiano said he will work hard, make himself better and 100 per cent improve.
“He saw it behind the scenes so he knew that. I said to Darren Fletcher when I was at the training ground the other day that he has really impressed me. Darren said that he is a worker, he’s going to make himself the player he needs to be.
“I still think defensively he probably needs to work a little bit. But yesterday [against Aston Villa] I thought he was very good defensively. With the ball, that cross, if we have players running onto them, the forwards will make the runs and we will score more goals.”
Ten Hag also praised Dalot after an impressive outing at the Villa Park.
“Everyone gets criticism but he is a fantastic player who is developing very well,” the Dutchman said. “He can play in so many positions and he is improving on crosses. He can score and his defending is improving so I am very pleased with him.”