PERTH, Australia — Aaron Wan-Bissaka has rejected suggestions his summer move to Manchester United affected his performances at the Under-21 European Championship and insisted he is ready to deal with the extra pressure that comes with playing at Old Trafford.
England U21 manager Aidy Boothroyd claimed Wan-Bissaka “had his head turned” during the tournament because of speculation surrounding his £50 million move to United. The full-back scored an own goal in the opening game defeat to France as England made an early exit.
But Wan-Bissaka insists he never let the transfer talk get to him during prolonged negotiations between United and Crystal Palace and believes he can handle the pressure of being the most expensive defender in the club’s history.
“I haven’t spoken to him [Boothroyd] about that,” Wan-Bissaka said. “I was not focused on [the speculation] really. I do not focus on speculation, I just keep my head down and keep doing it on the pitch. It is easy for me to block out, the main thing is just playing football.
“Over the summer there was a lot to go through. I am here now and that is my main focus.
“I expected [the extra attention] when I came here. It is a big club so the attention will always be there. I just need to play my game and block it out.”
Wan-Bissaka, 21, made his United debut in the 2-0 win over Perth Glory on Saturday. He looked composed during a positive second half performance that saw him complete 35 out of his 37 passes and win each of his five tackles.
And while the stats are impressive it is his signature “spider” tackles that have caught the eye in training with legs coming out of nowhere to win back the ball.
“I don’t think I learnt it,” he laughed. “I think it is just the range of the legs. I realised when I was 18 I just had the length, so I use it to my advantage.
“You have got to time it well to make the tackles, but that comes down to concentration. You can’t afford to gamble with it, you have to time it well. After every tackle it gives me confidence.”
Wan-Bissaka will be tasked with helping United rebuild after a disappointing season that saw them finish sixth and miss out on a place in the Champions League.
He was linked with a move to Manchester City before agreeing to join Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team and he said Old Trafford is the perfect place to improve after just one full season in the Premier League for Crystal Palace.
He also revealed he sought advice from Palace teammate and former United winger Wilfried Zaha who made the same move from Selhurst Park in 2013.
“I wanted to take my development to the next level and this was the team where I thought I could do it,” he said.
“It was mostly development as a player, really. I thought this was the right team for that to happen. When I walked in everyone has been talking to me. encouraging me with advice. That has helped me a lot.
“When [Zaha] knew that I joined he just told me to play without fear.
“I have come here as a new signing he said ‘just play your game and do what I did last season.’
“He was happy for me. He said I deserved it and I should continue working hard and doing what I do.”