No Man Utd matches for three years: Does Fosu-Mensah have any future under Solskjaer?

NxGn 2017 Timothy Fosu-Mensah
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The Netherlands international has been handed a contract extension at Old Trafford, but does he really have a chance of returning to the first team?

When Louis van Gaal brought Timothy Fosu-Mensah to Manchester United he was, like most youngsters that are brought to Old Trafford, hailed as the next big thing.

A versatile player who could slot in across the whole defence and also as a defensive midfielder, he had attracted interest from Manchester City and Inter before United landed the then-16-year-old in 2014 from Ajax.

His Premier League debut came as a substitute in the 3-2 win over Arsenal in February 2016, and he went onto make seven further league appearances and two in the FA Cup that season, including starting in the semi-final of the latter against Everton.

Jose Mourinho's arrival at the club in the summer of 2016 saw the former Chelsea boss quickly tie the teenager down to a new deal, and as such while other youngsters left the club, Fosu-Mensah put pen to paper on a four-year contract which was set to expire this summer.

As reported by  Goal,  United have decided to trigger the one-year extension included in the deal to keep Fosu-Mensah at the club until  2021 instead of allowing the defender to leave on a free transfer this summer. A fresh contract, however, is not on the cards at the moment.

The last time Fosu-Mensah, now 22, played for the first team was under Mourinho on the final day of the 2016-17 season against Crystal Palace as the Portuguese fielded a very young side to rest his players ahead of the Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm.

A loan spell with Fulham last season having spent the previous campaign at Crystal Palace seemed a good way for Fosu-Mensah to show he had what it takes to be a Premier League regular, but he struggled for game time. An anterior cruciate ligament injury in April then ended his campaign early.

Timothy Fosu Mensah Fulham

The injury has kept him sidelined for the majority of this campaign, though he made his comeback for the Under-23s in January where he played for just under an hour in a deep lying midfield role.

It was a commanding performance from the Netherlands international, and Solskjaer referred to Fosu-Mensah as a "new player" for the squad as he was making his return. But, despite playing twice for Neil Wood’s side, he is yet to make it in any of Solskjaer’s matchday squads.

“It is important for me to get games now. I'm 19, almost 20. I need to keep playing and learn a lot, to keep improving,” Fosu-Mensah said back when he was on loan at Palace in 2017-18. He made 25 appearances in all competitions that season but it seems that repeating that at United remains a long way away despite extending his stay for 12 months. 

Leroy Sane Timothy Fosu-Mensah

He has got little chance of being considered in midfield, the position where he started his career, with Nemanja Matic’s contract being extended and Scott McTominay and Fred having impressed in deeper-lying midfield roles this term.

At right-back, where he was playing for Fulham, Aaron Wan-Bissaka has nailed down the starting position while Diogo Dalot is available as back up and Brandon Williams has shown his versatility in that position too.

At centre-back Solskjaer already has too many options available to him including Axel Tuanzebe, who is the same age and a preferred option over Fosu-Mensah.

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It has been an injury-blighted season for Fosu-Mensah, who could have done with another loan spell away during the current campaign to get more Premier League minutes under his belt to show he has got what it takes to make it at Old Trafford in the long-term.

The defender has not ruled out a temporary departure as he seeks regular minutes. He is not in a position, at the moment, to get those in Solskjaer’s first team as he is too far down the pecking order. But, after another season on loan he could prove he warrants a new deal next summer.

The Dutchman has just over 12 months to show Solskjaer he desrves further opportunities, and the clock has already started ticking.