Manchester United secured the signing of Brazilian left back Alex Telles on the last day of the transfer window. But what exactly are they getting from their new full back. Is he an actual improvement on what they already have in their squad? Let's have a look!
Primarily, let's look at Telles numbers from last season. Telles took part in 49 games for FC Porto, and played in every single league match (bar three in which he was suspended). In those, he had 13 goals* and 12 assists, according to Transfermarkt.

*) 9 goals being penalties.
For the sake of the comparisons in this thread, we will be using domestic leagues, main domestic cup (ie FA Cup for England) and European competition (Europa League and Champions League) for 19/20. This would take away one only of Telles' goals from the earlier summary.
Telles will be going to Manchester United, where Luke Shaw has been the first choice left back. So, for the case of this thread, we will be using Shaw's numbers up against Telles' numbers for the majority of this thread.
In the tournaments we look at, @Wyscout report that Telles played 44 games, all of which he was placed as a left-back. He also played as a LCB, LW and LWB on a few occasions. Shaw played 31 games, with 29 being as a left-back and/or different positions. He was LCB in two matches.
Going back to Transfermarkt, Alex Telles missed zero - ZERO - games to injury during the 2019/2020-season. His last injury was a bursitis in April 2019 that kept him out for a week. Luke Shaw missed a total of 17 matches in the 2019/2020-season alone through different injuries.
Alex Telles played a pretty ridiculous 3937 minutes over the course of last season, meaning he averages 89.47 minutes per game. That happened 44 times last season. Shaw had 2556 minutes over the course of 31 matches, which gives 82.45 minutes per game. When they play, they play.
Shaw had one goal and three assists over the course of last season, and the last part is shown with him averaging 2.11 crosses per game, with 35% success rate. Telles is more offensive in that he had 3.93 crosses per game, with 31.4% of those crosses finding its target ( @Wyscout)
Telles has also shown himself to be more of a goalscorer, as we previously showed here. He averages 1.12 shots per game, with 38.8% being on target, whilst Luke Shaw ends up with a success rate of 47,1% on 0.6 shots per game. You don't shoot, you don't score.
The passing stats are perhaps what becomes more interesting. Shaw actually averages 57.39 passes a game, with 87.4% success. Telles has 38.4 passes a game, with 78.9% success rate. Riskier passes, or just that Shaw is a more proven passer within the system he plays? Interesting.
Nothing seems to break the deadlock between them in relation to through-balls. Shaw has 0.67 of those a game, with 21.1% coming off, whereas Telles has 0.48 with 28.6% being successful. In long pass, Shaw has 2.46 a game with 50% success, Telles has 3.5 a game, with 48.4%.
There is actually very little that separates them in terms of passing. Shaw has 2.46 passes into the penalty area on average, with 58.6% success. Telles stops at 3.41 attempts per game, with 42.3% success. Telles tries more (much like Fernandes), but Shaw has greater success.
One of the categories that do separate them is crossing. Telles has 3.93 a game, with 31.4% being successful. Shaw tries 2.11 a game, with 35% coming off. Basically, Telles has a slightly lower percentage, according to @Wyscout , but somewhat greater accuracy.
Even in terms of dribbling, it might be that Shaw is getting a bit of a rough ride. He averages 2.25 dribbles a game, with 64.1% success. Telles has 2.06 a game, but his rate stops at 74.4%. Basically, their roles reverse slightly in that Shaw attempts a bit more here.
To use him as a contrast to Shaw/Telles, I've picked out Sergio Reguilón for dribbling. He played in a very offensive Sevilla side last season, but according to @wyscout he stopped at 56.3% on 3.66 dribbles attempted. That's considerably lower than both Telles and Shaw.
The same here can be said for crossing. We had a look at those averages for Shaw and Telles earlier, where Telles was a bit better. They both lose to Reguilón here who averaged 39.5% from 4.52 attempted crosses. Sevilla were a crossing team, mind, but the numbers are interesting.
Some have criticized the defending of Alex Telles. In terms of interceptions, he stops at 5.1 a game, which is a bit less than Shaw who averages 5.14. They are not far behind "the best defensive right back in the world",Aaron Wan-Bissaka. He had 5.45 a game, according to @Wyscout
In terms of defensive duels, Shaw is a bit better than Telles with 7.64, and winning 60.4% of these. Telles has 6.04, winning 56.4% in total. Telles, however, smashes Shaw in the air. He wins 60.3% of the 3.45 he takes part in each game. Whereas Shaw wins 49.2% of his 2.29.
Let's look at Reguilón for a comparison. He stopped at 4.43 interceptions a game, he wins 57.5% of the 7.97 defensive duels he partakes in, and 50.5% of the 3.23 aerial battles he takes in, he wins. Telles (1.81m) is shorter than Shaw (1.85m), but taller than Reguilón (1.78m).
Using the absolutely fantastic TransferLab V.2 software by @AnalyticsFC , we see that Shaw might be a bit underrated in terms of the metrics. Whereas Telles has greater quality in ball, it's not head and shoulders above Shaw. Though crossing, as mentioned, is what separates them.
Again, using TransferLab V.2 software by @AnalyticsFC , we see the differences in what Shaw and Telles offers their team, and how they can be compared. Shaw is the slightly better defender, but offensively he is beaten pretty convincingly in terms of crosses and key passing.
An interesting aspect to this is the formational varieties this gives Man United. An idea would be to re-try the 3-5-2, with Shaw covering for Telles. Shaw can focus on his strength, which is defending, whereas Telles marauds up and down that left side*.
*) Line-up was an example of players that CAN be utilized. You can obviously switch Cavani for Martial/Greenwood, you can switch Matic for Fred/McTominay, Lindelöf for Bailly etc. Random pick to show Telles and Shaw's potential to work together in this system
Going back to @Wyscout one final time, it might be interesting to note where Shaw (left) and Telles (right) operate for the most part in terms of heat map. This lends a thought for overlapping and basically locking down the left side both ways, especially in a 3-5-2.

Alex Telles certainly provides Man United with the potential for more consistency in the left back position, and more offensive output. However, Shaw might be the better defender of the two. Having two left backs of different characteristics gives greater depth.
Analytics and visualisations via: TransferLab V2 from Analytics FC powered by LCP. For more information visit http://analyticsfc.co.uk 
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