The Red Devils defender admits the club should be looking to grace a Champions League stage, but wants a serious challenge to be mounted in Europe.”

Manchester United are bigger than the Europa League, says Diogo Dalot, but the club “just need to win it” after missing out on Champions League football.

The Red Devils could only muster a sixth-place finish in the Premier League last season and that means Thursday night competition is back on the agenda at Old Trafford.

This is not the first that United have found themselves outside of the continental elite in recent times, with Jose Mourinho having guided them to Europa League glory in 2017.

Dalot believes replicating that success should be the target for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, despite there being a sense of frustration that a fallen giant is punching below its weight.

The Portuguese defender told United’s official app : “It’s a big competition, but not as big for this club.

“This club needs to be in the Champions League every day, every year, winning the Champions League and in Portugal it’s a little bit different.

“Of course it’s a big competition and if any team wins it’ll be a great achievement, but for this club when we are in it we just need to win it.”

United are set to open their European campaign for 2019-20 with a home date against Astana on Thursday.

They are also due to face Partizan and AZ Alkmaar in Group L, with the intention being to ease their way into the knockout stage when those dropping out of the Champions League join the hunt for major silverware.

“Like I said, it’s not a competition as big as this club, but we’re definitely going there to face the challenge and we know that it’ll be difficult as well, because the teams are playing better and better,” Dalot added.

“But we are going to face that challenge.

“It could be good for some players that want to get some minutes, but it could also be difficult for the travelling as well, but that’s football. That’s what we need to be ready for and I think it’ll be a very good challenge for us.

“It’s always difficult, because the Champions League third-place teams will come to play against us as well and it’s always difficult, but I think we’ll be ready.”

United are yet to fire on all cylinders this season, with Solskjaer’s side having struggled to build on a 4-0 victory over Chelsea on the opening weekend.

“They did, however, get back to winning ways in their most recent outing, with a Marcus Rashford penalty edging them to a 1-0 victory over Leicester..”