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Tariq Lamptey: Ex-Chelsea wonderkid was wanted by Paris Saint-Germain, idolised Ronaldinho, but may have been born in the wrong generation

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Gareth Southgate could field a pretty strong XI if he exclusively picked right-backs for England, such is the depth in that position right now.

While that’s a lovely dilemma for the Three Lions boss, it’s not so great for the likes of Tariq Lamptey and Aaron Wan-Bissaka – who go head-to-head live on talkSPORT this Saturday when Brighton face Manchester United.

Lamptey has caught the eye already this season

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Lamptey has caught the eye already this season

Lamptey, in particular, has emerged as a superstar following his bargain £4million switch from Chelsea.

The England youth international has probably added a zero to his price tag in just two weeks.

Firstly, he was the best player on the pitch against Chelsea despite Brighton’s 3-1 defeat on the opening day.

And then he delivered another stunning display during the 3-0 victory at Newcastle on Sunday.

Lamptey is congratulated by manager Graham Potter

Lamptey is congratulated by manager Graham Potter

His talent was clear for all to see at Chelsea, indeed, with his contract running out, Paris Saint-Germain were among the clubs wanting to land him.

Lamptey’s size, he’s just 5ft 4in, could have been held against him but Brighton pitted him against 6ft 7in Dan Burn in training to get him used to the physicality – and it’s showing.

Burn told The Athletic of his friendly adversary: “I’ve hated playing against him, because I’ve played at left-back quite a bit in training and he’s been at right-back and I can’t catch him!

“He’s got such a low centre of gravity, it’s hard to knock him off the ball, take the ball off him. You don’t see many people take the ball past him either.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on him but I expect big things.”

Lamptey isn’t just offensively excellent, he’s effective defensively too

Lamptey isn’t just offensively excellent, he’s effective defensively too

Brighton fans are loving every moment of his performances, he’s bringing a smile to their faces.

And it’s no surprise his heroes were two giants of the game who did the same.

“I enjoyed watching Ronaldinho and Dani Alves,” Lamptey revealed.

“Dani plays in the same position and I’ve always loved watching him bomb forward, while Ronaldinho played with so much flair and skill. He also played with a smile on his face.”

For the 19-year-old, it’s just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time – for both club and country.

James was ahead of Lamptey in the pecking order at Chelsea

Getty Images – Getty

James was ahead of Lamptey in the pecking order at Chelsea

Reece James and Cesar Azpilicueta were both ahead of him in the pecking order at Chelsea, while England have an array of fantastic right-backs.

James, who has established himself as the first-choice right back at Chelsea, is still only good enough for a place in the Under-21s.

The aforementioned Wan-Bissaka, who cost United £50million, can’t even get near the squad despite starting for the Red Devils every week.

Leicester’s James Justin, Leeds’ Luke Ayling, Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters, and Norwich’s Max Aarons are also waiting in the same queue.

How to choose between so many talented English right-backs? Wan-Bissaka can’t even get a call-up

Getty Images – Getty

How to choose between so many talented English right-backs? Wan-Bissaka can’t even get a call-up

Problem is, Trent Alexander-Arnold will probably hold the right-back position down for the next decade, given the Liverpool star is already among the best in the world aged 21.

Meanwhile, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier have got the nod in recent years due to their versatility.

Walker has been deployed in a back three, while Trippier has been used on the left.

Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles made his England debut in the most recent Nations League fixtures, signalling another opportunity for a right-back who can play in a variety of positions.

Southgate loves players who can play more than one position

Getty Images – Getty

Southgate loves players who can play more than one position

What’s the answer for Tariq Lamptey and Aaron Wan-Bissaka?

Be more versatile!

When forced to choose between a plethora of right-backs for a limited squad size, it’s only natural that Southgate will pick players who offer depth in more than one position.

Why else do you think Eric Dier makes every England squad?

Lamptey and Wan-Bissaka, although natural right-backs, have qualities which make them suited to other areas of the pitch.

Wan-Bissaka is more defensively sound than any of Southgate’s options, especially in one-v-one situations.

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However, the 22-year-old remains limited going forward, and United fans have grown frustrated with his end product in the final third.

Southgate has moved away from three-at-the-back in recent months, but if he were to reinstall the formation which worked so well at the 2018 World Cup, Wan-Bissaka would be a perfect right-centre-back.

That would allow Alexander-Arnold to get forward and use that magical right-foot, with added cover for what he lacks defensively.

For Lamptey, he should be looking in the other direction.

In his early Premier League displays, the 19-year-old has shown a serious ability to get past people and create.

Lamptey was a constant threat against his former club last week

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Lamptey was a constant threat against his former club last week

We lost count of the number of times he beat Marcos Alonso during the opening day defeat to Chelsea, and it was his pass which created the Brighton equaliser.

Against Newcastle, Lamptey terrorised the Magpies in forward areas with all the guile of an experienced winger.

If Lamptey and Wan-Bissaka can prove their versatility, there might be a space for them in Southgate’s Euro 2021 squad after all.


Brighton vs Manchester United is live on talkSPORT as the first of our THREE GameDay commentaries this Saturday!

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