Albion’s final friendly started with us all talking about an exciting talent whose roles include left wing-back.

Leandro Trossard ensured the 5-1 win over Espanyol ended the same way.

It seems a long time ago that almost joking reference was made in one of Graham Potter’s weekly press conferences to Trossard playing as wing-back, albeit on the right, for Belgium.


Graham Potter’s almost dismissive response was that you would need an awful lot of possession to play Trossard in such a role.

Well, it is happening – and, with Marc Cucurella absent, Trossard used that platform coming in from a fairly wide starting position to complete a 14-minute hat-trick in this dress rehearsal.

Just as he did to score goals at Arsenal and Tottenham last season.

The irony is that Trossard was switched to a more central role at one stage last season in a quest to get more goals from him.

The wide starting berth is getting him into good positions.

And, certainly on Saturday, the quality and composure of the finishes matched what we saw at times late last season.

A perfect volley, a pass into the far corner and a clever slot inside the near post made sure of that.

The fact he is scoring more goals from wide seems counter-intuitive but it works.

Potter said: “It’s a little bit what he was thinking as well.

“He wanted to play central and sometimes there is a feeling for that, but actually he is really good in the wide areas.

“He gives you an option because he can play inside, he can go wide to central with his right foot.

“Sometimes if you have same-sided players in those positions it is not so easy to play centrally from there.

“So you end up down the sides, which is fine. It is just another way to attack.

“He gives you that and if he is popping in the goals, it is a bonus.”

As wing-back, it is tempting to say Trossard is more wing than back.

Actually, he is more inside-left than wing at times.

The old idea of a wing-back or an attacking full-back raiding out wide, overlapping everybody and then wiping the chalk from his boots, does not apply now.

Not all the time, anyway, although he and Solly March can both do that.

March’s vision and passing created room for Pascal Gross and Joel Veltman outside him at times.

Gross and March have a particularly good understanding, reminiscent of Bruno and Anthony Knockaert down that side a few years ago.

Trossard likes to drift infield and there was one instance when March appeared almost as an old-fashioned No.9 with a header from around the penalty spot as he was picked out by a cross.

Potter said: “Yes, naturally they make those movements, but the balance is that they have to do the defensive side of the game as well.

“And as a team we have to make sure we can cover those guys because they are more offensive.

“They do their bit defensively as well, so that’s good.”

March has long since been regarded as Albion’s most diligent winger from a defensive point of view.

But he is not a full-back and there was one occasion, for example, on Saturday when Ruben Sanchez got past him with ease and entered the penalty area.

Moises Caicedo was across quickly to tidy things up.

Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister, whose passing and touch again impressed, speak the same language in more ways than one.

They have developed an understanding in pre-season and look set to be the engine room of this side as the Prem campaign starts.

Potter said: “You have got to balance it somehow and those two read the game well.

“Moises, for a young player, does that really well and makes important interceptions and tackles, and obviously the back three provide that support. So it is about finding the balance.”

Albion’s shape, balance and understanding allowed them to outplay an Espanyol side who have a lot of work to do in pre-season and were not at full strength here.

Enock Mwepu played a long way forward and both he and Danny Welbeck probably should have scored in the first half.

Albion led at the break by Adam Webster’s glancing, downward header from Gross’s corner.

Lewis Dunk’s looping header from Trossard’s cross opened the second-half floodgates.

Then Trossard took over – with a right-foot volley as the ball dropped to him, with a step inside and sidefoot finish and then with a shot drilled inside the near post after Adam Lallana helped on March’s cut-back after great play down the right.

Robert Sanchez had already made a fine save low to his left from a close-range header when he was beaten by Joselu in a one-on-one for the Espanyol reply.

Albion will look at how the talented Sergi Darder had time to thread an astute pass which took out the home defence and sent the striker clear.

There is work to do in anticipation of league tests which will be far tougher than this from Espanyol.

Trossard might not even start at wing-back at Old Trafford.

Albion have others who can operate there, as the people of Manchester well know.

But the Belgian is a good option for the long campaign ahead.

Whether Cucurella is still around or not.

Albion: Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Webster (van Hecke 72); March (Lamptey 72), Mac Allister (Alzate 69), Caicedo (Sarmiento 77), Gross (Mitoma 72), Trossard (Maupay 72),;Mwepu (Lallana 55); Welbeck (Undav 72). Subs not used: Scherpen, Enciso, Steele, Duffy, Clarke.