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Does Tim Fosu-Mensah have a chance under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season?

Manchester United signed Tim Fosu-Mensah from Ajax during the summer transfer window in 2014. The then 16-year-old came to the Old Trafford club with high prospects, especially coming from the Ajax Academy where he was highly rated. The natural central defender could also play at both fullback positions, also playing in the defensive midfield role.

Fosu-Mensah made his first team debut for United under the management of Louis van Gaal during the 2015/16 season, making a total of ten appearances, eight of which came in the Premier League. The following season, under the management of Jose Mourinho, the right-back, which was the position he was tested in at the time, made 11 appearances; four in the Premier League, four in the UEFA Europa League, two in the Emirates FA Cup and once in the EFL Cup.

Back in 2016, Fosu-Mensah signed a new long-term contract at the club which runs until the summer of 2020, although there is another year which could be added. The player was loaned out to Crystal Palace during the 2017/18 season, which could have been his big break, however, the sacking of Frank de Boer after just five matches and the arrival of Roy Hodgson meant he only made a total of 24 appearances for the club.

Last season, Mourinho allowed the player to go out on loan once again, this time to Premier League new boys Fulham. The sacking of Slaviša Jokanović and the arrival of Claudio Ranieri, who was sacked in February and replaced by Scott Parker, mixed with injury, meant Fosu-Mensah made just 13 appearances for the club. The player’s season ended back in April after suffering an injury which required him to undergo knee ligament surgery. He recently returned to training ahead of pre-season.

Obviously, after such a bad injury, the likelihood of the player being fit and ready for pre-season will depend on his return to the Aon Training Complex. He was seen at Schiphol airport on Sunday, presumably returning to Manchester. He could be a big boost for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is looking to bring in young, talented and exciting players for his new-look United squad. So far signing Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka with many other names linked to the club.

The fact that Fosu-Mensah can play in a number of positions would be beneficial for both Solskjaer and the player himself. United may not need the right-back position to be strengthened with the fact they have Wan-Bissaka, Diogo Dalot and Ashley Young who can play in that position with the left-back position fortified by Luke Shaw, Dalot and Young. The centre-back position could be an option, as could defensive midfield.

Many United supporters seem to forget Fosu-Mensah after he was loaned out for two successive seasons but at 21, he still has a lot to offer this club. Ajax rated him highly when he was playing in the Netherlands and he did well at youth level for United, becoming an U21 regular in his second season at the club. The player has been unlucky during loan spells due to the manager being sacked; de Boer at Palace and Jokanović at Fulham plus injuries halting his development.

At 21, Fosu-Mensah should really be a player who is considered for the first team and his break could come this season, or during pre-season if an initial injury and recover assessment this week means he’s ready to be involved. I guess we will find out when the squad for the pre-season tour travels in a weeks time for Australia, where United face both Perth Glory and Leeds United in the country before leaving for Singapore and Shanghai, China to play their first two matches in the International Champions Cup (Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur).

If Fosu-Mensah travels with the squad, he might get some game time in some of the matches, or his conclusion could be used to help him achieve match fitness ahead of the new season. If he is left behind in Manchester, it would not be the end of the road for him as United will play two more matches this summer before the new season starts, facing Kristiansund in Oslo, Norway and AC Milan in Cardiff, Wales, which is the final International Champions Cup match. Fosu-Mensah has something to give this United squad but he needs to prove himself under Solskjaer.

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