Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says youngster Paddy McNair has the chance to become the club's first-choice right-back "for the next 10 years", despite recent reports in Spain claiming the Dutch boss wants to sign Dani Alves for the role.
Earlier on Friday 6 February, Spanish newspaper Sport claimed the Barcelona star's agent, Dinorah Santana, will fly to Manchester in the coming days to discuss a move to Old Trafford in the summer, when Alves will be a free agent, after Van Gaal made an approach.
Nevertheless, United have been linked with a number of right-backs since Van Gaal's arrival to Old Trafford last summer as he only has one in the first team, in Rafael, while winger Antonio Valencia is currently covering the role.
But the Dutch manager has now suggested McNair has what it takes to fill that position.
The 19-year-old centre-back took advantage of the injury crisis in the back line to make his debut under Van Gaal earlier in the season and has since used his versatility to adapt to several positions, while establishing himself in the first team.
Having grown as a central midfielder in United's academy, he has played many of his first-team games as a centre-back. He made his best appearance so far as a right-back during the midweek win over Cambridge United in the FA Cup fourth-round replay.
"It is not only Paddy McNair who has impressed with his development, as I have given a lot of chances to younger players. But Paddy McNair has developed himself very well, not only as a central defender but now we are giving him the chance to develop as a full-back and he did it very well," Van Gaal said to MUTV.
"He has done it already in the second team [Under-21s] and has done it now at a higher level in the first team. Maybe he shall be the right full-back of Manchester United for the next 10 years, you never know. He has the chance."
McNair believes his experience at the heart of the back line has helped him adapt to the new role by going forward but also helping the centre-backs.
He said: "I enjoyed getting down the right flank. I actually enjoy getting forward. It was a bit different. I played there for the Under-21s and I played there for the first time [in the senior team] against Yeovil in the second half. It was good to play there.
"I've played in a three at the back, so it's kind of similar. It is similar to centre-back, but you've just got a bit more running forward to do, a lot more sprinting and overlapping. A lot of the time I was in their 18-yard box; when you're a centre-back, you don't really get over the halfway line that much."