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Why Timothy Fosu-Mensah can be an important player for Manchester United next season

Beginning his carer at Ajax, Timothy Fosu-Mensah first caught the attention of Manchester United while playing as a centre back in the AEGON Future Cup. Joining the club in the summer of 2014 at the age of 16, Fosu-Mensah’s athleticism and natural ability soon earned him a place in the U18’S, where he went on to make 18 appearances in the 2014-15 season. After putting in some good performances for the U18’s, Fosu-Mensah was promoted to the U21’s squad for the beginning of the 2015-16 season.

With the then 17-year-old showing great versatility and playing in a number of different positions, playing as a right-back, a centre-back and in the midfield. Putting in a string of good performances, particularly at right back. It was not long before these good performances caught the attention of the then manager Louis van Gaal, with the young Dutchmen soon being rewarded with a first team debut in the February of that season, as an injury-stricken United took on Arsenal at Old Trafford.

Coming on as a substitute for the injured Marcos Rojo around the 50-minute mark, Fosu-Mensah put in a composed performance and in a game of high magnitude played like an experienced professional. On the back of this performance, Fosu-Mensah earned himself a place with the first team squad for the remainder of the campaign going to make a further 10 appearances.

Fosu-Mensah very much kept his place within the first team set up, after the arrival of Jose Mourinho at the start of last season. Despite putting in some impressive performances, Fosu-Mensah struggled to hold down a regular position and was limited to only four starts and seven substitute appearances for the club.

In order to get more first team minutes, Fosu-Mensah was sent out on loan to fellow Premier League side Crystal Palace at the start of the current season. Playing as either a right-back or as a right-sided centre-back, Fosu-Mensah has made 24 appearances for Palace this term, helping the Eagles secure a mid-table finish, and put in big performances against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. In 21 Premier League appearances, he has an average pass accuracy of 74%, and averages five defensive actions per game, winning 49% of tackles.

Fosu-Mensah has had to fight hard to keep his place in the team this season, with a change in management and with Palace battling relegation. Yet this experience will have been invaluable for the 20-year-old, helping him improve his technical ability, by playing week-in-week-out and also by allowing him the chance to grow mentally, having to deal with setbacks and the looming pressure of potential relegation.

With Fosu-Mensah set to return to United ahead of their pre-season tour of the United States of America this summer, the young Dutchman will have the opportunity while many of his teammates are on World Cup duty to stake a claim for more first team minutes next season.

Getting some regular first team football under his belt, after what can be described as a relatively successful loan spell at Crystal Palace there is no reason why such a talented and versatile player like Fosu-Mensah can’t play an important role for United next season.

With Mourinho hinting that he would like to see both Antonia Valencia and Ashley Young keep their place as first choice fullbacks next term and with both Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian likely to leave this summer. A player with the ability of Fosu-Mensah would be a perfect option for Mourinho to have in the squad.

Plus, with Valencia starting to enter the twilight stages of his carer at the club, Fosu-Mensah could be the perfect replacement for the Ecuadorian and be the club’s next long-term right back.

If Mourinho can invest his time and his trust in to Fosu-Mensah, then there is no reason why the Dutchman can’t blossom in to a true Manchester United star and be an important part of the squad, not only next season but for many seasons to come.

Written by Jamie Mackinlay

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