Over the past few years, Manchester United have been a club in transition, but they do always find a way to give young players a chance in the first-team. Astonishingly, at least one player to come through the club’s youth system has appeared in every league matchday squad since 1937.
Louis van Gaal handed debuts to 14 academy graduates during his tenure, including Marcus Rashford, whilst new manager Jose Mourinho has insisted he will also adhere to the tradition of promoting youth.
Rashford’s rise has been incredible, but Timothy Fosu-Mensah was arguably the most impressive of United’s young bunch last season. The Dutch starlet produced some fantastic performances in his breakthrough season and seems destined to enjoy a long, successful career with the Red Devils.
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The next Paul Pogba?
Having progressed so well through the ranks at Old Trafford, people started to tout the dominant 18-year-old as the next Paul Pogba, and you can see why.
Fosu-Mensah might not play in the same position as the Juventus and ex-United star, but he is strong, very quick, comfortable in possession and blessed with power. He reads the game well for someone so young, he’s not afraid to make tackles and he has the athleticism to get up and down the pitch.
Breakthrough season for Fosu-Mensah
His performance in April away to a then title-chasing Tottenham was particularly outstanding, keeping the score at 0-0 in that game before injury forced Fosu-Mensah off the field. The youngster used both his speed and his anticipation skills to make some vital recovery tackles and last-ditch blocks at White Hart Lane.
When Fosu-Mensah joined United’s academy from Ajax in September 2014, he came as a raw central defender. However, having spotted his high level of technical ability, the club’s youth coaches pushed him into midfield.
The teenager is yet to start in midfield for the senior side and featured mostly at full-back towards the end of last season. He began to look the part at right-back under his compatriot Van Gaal, but whatever position he ends up in over the long-term, Fosu-Mensah’s talent is clear for all to see.
Fosu-Mensah will thrive under Mourinho
The young star is relishing the opportunity to work with Mourinho next season and has already said he wants to “develop into a top player for Manchester United” under the “Special One”. He feels as though his next step is to establish himself as a first-team regular for the FA Cup winners.
Since Mourinho craves energy, power and dynamism in the middle of the park, Fosu-Mensah could easily become a top-class midfield enforcer one day. For the time being, he must continue to work hard and improve because he certainly has all the qualities to be one of the stars of his generation.
United fans, who already love the young star, were aware of his immense potential long before his senior debut back in February and they should expect big things from him in years to come.
Fosu-Mensah? Rashford? Which youngsters do YOU think will succeed under Mourinho? Have YOUR say in the comments box below!