What is Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s best position for Manchester United?

Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s story at Old Trafford has been an interesting one this far into his career. He is a young player bursting with potential, however, his first team action has been extremely limited so far under Jose Mourinho. Unfortunately, towards the end of the season when many young players were getting more opportunities, Fosu-Mensah was sidelined by injury. The young Dutch midfielder signed from Ajax’s youth team made just eleven appearances for United across all competitions this year, and while he showed promise in these appearances, he also showed flashes of youth and rust from not seeing regular first team football. Fosu-Mensah is in the unfortunate position of being a talented enough player to consistently make the bench for United, however not far enough along in his career to break into the starting eleven on a regular basis.

One of Fosu-Mensah’s best attributes is his versatility. The young Dutchman has the ability on the ball and the defensive capability to be a strong defensive midfielder. Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera are the two obvious starting candidates for this role, however, when one of them is unavailable due to fatigue or suspension, I would love to see Fosu-Mensah play in this role. However, other options as rotation players for this position include Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, and Andreas Pereira, so he will face tough competition to get into the side there.

Another area on the pitch Fosu-Mensah can play is right back. He played right back in a few cup games this past season, and put in decent performances for the most part, although he did have some flaws such as going in recklessly for challenges in dangerous areas. However, Fosu-Mensah is physically hard to beat and has good pace, which puts him in a similar mold to Antonio Valencia who was one of United’s standout players from this past campaign. Valencia’s first season he was frequently caught out of position and put in bad challenges, however this past season he was one of the best right-backs in the Premier League, showing consistent game time is a huge factor in developing the skill of playing a position.

Other than Valencia, Matteo Darmian is the only true right back in the squad. Darmian had a very strong end to the season for United, but there has been a lot of speculation about him making a move back to Italy and at times he was picked on defensively by quicker wingers when in one on one situations. Should Darmian see more time at left back like he did last season, this would leave Fosu-Mensah as a deputy to Valencia and see his game time increase, as Valencia is approaching 32, and will need increased rest. Should Fosu-Mensah put in encouraging performances, he could see himself as United’s starting right back when Valencia ages further.

A final position Fosu-Mensah can play is at center back. This is a position he has not played frequently, and probably the last position he would play for United. Many United fans would like to see Bailly and Lindelof as the centre-back pairing for United, and Bailly should have a spot locked down after being consistently brilliant for United last season. Following these two, there are Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, and Axel Tuanzebe who are all options that could be argued are further ahead in the depth chart than Fosu-Mensah. Rojo was another United player who had a solid season under Mourinho last year, and Jones looked good at times when healthy. Even if Jones or Smalling were sold this summer, that would leave six center back options ahead of Fosu-Mensah, so it is unlikely he will see game time at center back.

Fosu-Mensah is one of United’s young players with the highest potential, so it will be critical for Mourinho to either get him consistent game time this year at a combination of defensive midfield and right back, or loan him out to a side where he will be able to find consistent play time and continue his growth as a player.

Written by Andrew McGowan


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