August 9, 2017
Timothy Fosu-Mensah since making his debut under Louis van Gaal during the 2015-16 season has been at the forefront of Manchester United’s reborn youth system. Youngsters like Marcus Rashford, Demi Mitchell, Scott McTominay, and Axel Tuanzebe are all products of this renewal of one of Manchester United’s core components. Despite his reputation as a manager who does not favor youth, Jose Mourinho has done well to move several youngsters into the first team set up. While Rashford, Tuanzebe, and Andreas Pereira have all established themselves as first team players, Timothy Fosu-Mensah has struggled for playing time under Mourinho. In order to gain more playing time, the young Dutchman is nailed on to join Crystal Palace on loan this upcoming season. This has received mixed reactions from the United faithful but the idea of Fosu-Mensah earning the first team football he deserves is a tantalizing prospect.
Crystal Palace appears to be a good fit for Fosu-Mensah for several reasons, Frank De Boer was his manager when he was a youth prospect at Ajax until his transfer to Manchester United in 2014. This familiarity between manager and player will serve the young Fosu-Mensah well as he fights for a starting position. What will also prove useful for Fosu-Mensah is his versatility? While Palace have secured a loan deal for Ruben Loftus-Cheek and purchased Ajax defensive midfielder Jairo Riedewald, this will likely not hinder Fosu-Mensah’s bid for first team action due to his ability to fill in at a variety of positions. Palace only have two players who are natural right backs, Martin Kelly and Joel Ward, neither of which are nailed on starters. Crystal Palace possesses a sizable amount of depth in midfield which points to right back being the position Fosu-Mensah will most likely be able to make his own.
It is likely De Boer will give him the opportunity to prove himself in the early going and if he is able to take that chance he will undoubtedly feature frequently. A successful season would ideally be over twenty league appearances for the South London club. Should Fosu-Mensah receive the playing time many think he deserves he will return with several options. Antonio Valencia will be 33 by the time next season begins pointing to the right back position as a viable option. Matteo Darmian has looked more comfortable on the left side despite being a right footed player leaving room for Fosu-Mensah to make the position his own for the next decade. To this point, an issue with the young right back’s game has been his lack of overall polish. He has failed to impress in crossing and dribbling situations in his limited opportunities thus far.
These issues will likely be addressed by the technically sensational Frank De Boer during training. If right back is not available due to a transfer or the emergence of a different youth prospect, defensive midfield could provide a different route. Nemanja Matic and Michael Carrick are both older players, the latter almost certainly retiring within the next two seasons. This leaves an opportunity for Fosu-Mensah to make the defensive midfield destroyer role his own. Fosu-Mensah has impressed with his work rate, speed, and strength making him a capable candidate to fill the role once Matic is ready to pass the mantle. This seems like a good option but it further delays a starting role. This could lead to Fosu-Mensah becoming impatient and looking to force a move away giving many United fans painful flashbacks of the Paul Pogba deal.
The centre-back could be an option but with the purchase of Victor Lindelof and the emergence of Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly the position looks to be solid for the next several seasons. Timothy Fosu-Mensah undoubtedly possesses the raw talent and potential to become a genuine star in the Premier League. United fans will be hoping this loan deal is similar to Andreas Pereira’s to Granada. Pereira was able to unleash his talents upon La Liga proving to Mourinho he must be apart of United’s first team. It will rest on Fosu-Mensah to make the most of his appearances in the early going if he is to force his way into the Palace and eventually Manchester United starting XI.