History will show Gary Neville's career ended in 2011 yet it effectively came in 2007. Neville was a shadow of the accomplished right-back he once was after a committed tackle from the late Bolton Wanderers midfielder Gary Speed that St Patrick's Day.

An ankle injury, and various setbacks, reduced Neville to a solitary cameo against Roma over the next 18 months. He eventually recovered to add Club World Cup, Premier League, and League Cup winner's medals to an already glistening trophy room, though his career was prolonged by Sir Alex Ferguson's sentimentalism.

Jamie Carragher joked 'nobody wants to grow up to be a Gary Neville'. Full-backs were largely unheralded in their era whereas now a full-back is the de facto winger of any elite side worth their salt. Neville feigns humility about being David Beckham's bag man, but for the best part of a decade he was one of the most proactive right-backs in Europe and unchallenged at club and international level.

Neville had the medals but not the international recognition of Lilian Thuram, a World Cup and European Championship winner with the great France side at the turn of the century, the exoticism of another World Cup winner, Cafu, or the unflustered magnificence of Javier Zanetti.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is fortunate in that the Premier League has unrivalled worldwide exposure and he has emerged in the social media era. Alexander-Arnold has a fervent following among Liverpudlians that filters through to certain members of the press who only refer to him as 'Trent'. He has raised the bar for attack-minded full-backs though rarely held to account for flaky defending exploited by Wolves. Watford and Atletico Madrid this calendar year alone.

Neville, another local hero, was more unabashed in flaunting his attachment to United and openly admitted he 'hates' Scousers in his early 20s. The United website removed a quote from Wayne Rooney, a Scouse-bred boyhood Evertonian playing for United, about his hatred for Liverpool in 2009. The sanitisation of football has diluted tribalism and accentuates appreciation for vibrant talents like Alexander-Arnold.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is proof a right-back does not have to have the attacking instincts of Alexander-Arnold to go viral. His Stretch Armstrong legs wowed the crowd in Singapore that chanted 'Bissaka' and the United Twitter account has posted montages of his tackles. Raheem Sterling has never looked more unlikely to break his duck against United.

For what already looks to be a prudent £50million investment, United have their most complete right-back since Speed ploughed into his namesake. Neville belatedly admitted defeat sat on a toilet seat at half-time at the Hawthorns on New Year's Day in 2011, fortunate to have stayed on for denying Graham Dorrans a goalscoring opportunity. "You're f----d, aren't you?" Mike Phelan asked him in the second-half. Neville was. Fabio da Silva replaced him.

Rafael, started 113 more times for United than Fabio and was the heir apparent to Neville since his maiden appearance in a pre-season friendly with Peterborough United in 2008. The twins were still 17 when they queued with weary United supporters at Domodedovo Airport after the Moscow 2008 Champions League final and were thrust into the first-team less than three months later.

Wes Brown was an admirable stop-gap during the Premier and Champions League-double winning campaign but 2008-09 was a near write-off due to injury. There was little Ferguson could do to enhance the United squad and Philipp Lahm was sounded out, but chose to stay with Bayern Munich. The ungainly John O'Shea was preferred over Neville and Rafael for most of the season and United set a British record of 1,333 minutes without conceding.

The changing of the guard had seemed imminent at Arsenal, where Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas left a substituted Neville dizzy and Rafael replaced him to score a fabulous volley. The trouble was the Da Silvas were as brittle as Louis Saha and tackled like Paul Scholes, which let O'Shea back into the fold and extended Neville's shelf life.

When they're on the pitch, we don't know which is which: the Da Silvas
When they're on the pitch, we don't know which is which: the Da Silvas

Brown and O'Shea were sold to Sunderland in the summer of 2011 and the Da Silvas were the only specialist right-backs remaining. Ferguson's faith backfired when the fragile siblings managed 27 starts between them in 2011-12 and he had to alternate between Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. At Stoke City in September, Antonio Valencia made his United debut at right-back.

A new contract and the number two shirt galvanised Rafael in 2012 and he had his finest season but his promise ended with Ferguson's retirement. David Moyes and Louis van Gaal distrusted him and regression was evident with daft penalties against Liverpool and Leicester. Matteo Darmian was brought in the next year after Nathaniel Clyne was dissuaded from working under Van Gaal and Rafael left a cult figure.

Darmian was all catennacio and no carpe diem. Valencia usurped him and was as exceptional in Jose Mourinho's first 18 months as he was dreadful in his last 18 months at the club before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer released him.

Neville's legacy did not necessarily merit a mile-long list of 804 right-backs in the search for a worthy successor and United settled on the most obvious in Wan-Bissaka. Only four years separate the arrivals of Darmian and Wan-Bissaka but the going rate for an established full-back has hyperinflated. Darmian cost a frugal £12.7million - around a quarter of Wan-Bissaka's overall fee.

United sources felt the £54m deal between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City for Kyle Walker in 2017 distorted the market for defenders and it took them two years to seriously invest in their own defence with Wan-Bissaka and the £80m Harry Maguire. After their worst top-flight defensive season for 40 years in 2018-19, United have the fourth-best defensive record in the Premier League.

Some will grow up wanting to be a Wan-Bissaka.