Can the young Dutchman get back to his flying best or has he flown too close to the sun?
If you asked Manchester United fans to give you one positive about Louis van Gaal’s time at the club, other than his hilarious antics, the answer you would most likely get is his eye for talented youth from within the club’s academy.
Of the many young talents brought through under Van Gaal’s regime, a young defensive minded compatriot by the name Timothy Fosu-Mensah caught the eye of many. From the get go the young Dutchman seemed to show the embodiment of that famous Dutch football archetype, “Total Football”. Although often played in deeper lying defensive roles, “Timbo” as he is affectionately known by United fans, showed the ability to play in almost any outfield position.
With a high work rate both on and off the ball, incredible pace and an eye for a perfectly timed tackle, many fans were delighted by the thought of Timbo being a permanent fixture in the United squad for years to come. Sadly however this was not the case as two unsuccessful and ultimately fruitless loan spells as well as a string of injuries, saw a bright budding career stagnate and as such lead to questions about what the future holds for the youngster.
There may be light at the end of the tunnel yet for Fosu-Mensah’s career though, as United continue to struggle with injuries and form, the Dutchman who himself is recovering from a long lay off due to an ACL injury, may soon find himself straight back into the first team when he recovers.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where his place would be in this United team, with Wan-Bissaka making the right back position his own and Dalot waiting in the wings for every opportunity he can get, it seems like Timbo’s favoured position is out of the picture. There may be an argument for him to fit in elsewhere in the back line, with no real competition for Luke Shaw’s spot at left back just yet, Fosu-Mensah could provide that competition which could be the key to getting the best out of both players.
My personal belief however, is that he should be considered a candidate for the defensive midfield position. With Matic clearly showing his age and the inconsistency of Fred, Timbo could be the answer to United’s problems in that department. Alongside McTominay, they could make for a formidable midfield partnership for years to come and also potentially be the key to finally unlocking Paul Pogba and allowing him to have the freedom he desires in midfield.