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Assessing Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s future at Manchester United

It is hard to believe but the 2020/21 Premier League campaign is set to be the sixth season that Timothy Fosu-Mensah has spent as a professional Manchester United player. Being brought in to the United U-18s side from the famed Ajax set up back in the 14/15 season, Fosu-Mensah was handed his senior contract in the following season. He made his first-team debut in a Premier League match-up against Arsenal in the following season under Louis Van Gaal.

Coming in as a right-sided center-half in at a young age of 18, playing for United, he was certainly seen as one for the future with many at the club setting him up to be a long time fix for the club’s defensive woes in the years to come. Four seasons on, now aged 22, the defender has amassed a measly 26 first-team appearances for the Reds, in all fairness to him most of his absence can be attributed to his two season-long loan spells through the 17/18 and 18/19 campaigns at Crystal Palace and Fulham respectively where he struggled to find his feet.

Making a mere count of 21 appearances for the senior team in the course of over a season and a half since his debut, most of them being as a late substitute, Fosu-Mensah had next to no considerable experience to show for in the Premier League prior to his first loan spell at Crystal Palace. His move to Palace saw him become a regular Premier League starter for a side that once all was said and done, finished at a respectable 11th position in the league. His personal performances shaping his profile up as a decently reliable defender that can play right-back, center-back and hold it down as a d-mid as need be.

Former Manchester City winger Leroy Sane was really happy with Fosu-Mensah’s performance in a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park.

I have played against him twice this season, and even last season, he had me really well under control and I told him how happy I was to play against him,” Sane said via Manchester Evening News.

Another similar season was expected when newly-promoted Fulham signed him on loan from the Reds. But the chances came scarcely at Craven Cottage. Another underwhelming season ended up in more misery as Timothy picked up a long term cruciate ligament injury followed by an unfortunate knee injury. This kept him out of action for well over ten months, spending over half the time back at Man United recovering. He made only 12 appearances for Fulham wherein he had a series of average performances. In his time at Fulham, he achieved the highest speed in the Premier League (35.3 km/h).

Fosu-Mensah has played in inconsistent systems with the players surrounding him not quite up to the level of his peers at Old Trafford. He is still looked upon as a prospect at 22, and current Reds’ boss Ole Gunnar Soslkjaer seems to be of a similar view, as Fosu-Mensah has been included in the first team as a defensive option.

All of this has been a mere shadow of the career most expected him to have, but at just 22, and opportunities coming in recently, all does not seem to be bad for the young Dutchman. He came into action against Crystal Palace when both Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams were sidelined. He had an above-average game and managed to keep Wilfried Zaha quiet. Solskjaer is impressed with him and has started him thrice in the last six games.

He has not been in his best form but is subsequently improving. It is fair to him to give a couple more chances after being out of the pitch for so long. United could really use him as a defensive back-up option. Given United’s injury records, it is safe to say that Ole needs depth in every position. With Fosu-Mensah, Ole gets a package deal with a lot of versatile options.

It is a no brainer he will be a a part of the squad and can even improve his reputation if Diogo Dalot leaves United. The Dutch international needs to keep his head down and work harder and grab any opportunity given to him.

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