Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised young defender Teden Mengi.
Speaking to BBC Sport’s season preview, Solskjaer spoke about the leadership credentials throughout the United squad, and made a point of picking out Mengi.
Solskjaer compared Mengi to Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt, who was linked with a move to United in 2019 [BBC].
Solskjaer said: “Teden has definitely impressed me. You have got to make sure he’s ready for it. Ajax made Matthijs De Ligt captain when he was 18. Teden Mengi has something special in him.
“It is about picking the right moment to give him a chance.”
This is high praise for the teenager, who made his debut against LASK in the Europa League last 16 second leg against LASK.
Mengi was in action while Solskjaer’s interview was being broadcast, starting for United’s under-21 side in an EFL Cup victory over League Two side Salford City.
He helped United to keep a clean sheet in a 3-0 win, enhancing his own reputation in the process.
When the time is right
Solskjaer acknowledged that it is tougher to throw a centre-back into the first team at the top level, than a striker, because ‘you don’t know how they will react if they make a mistake’.
Even so, it is pretty clear he rates Mengi very highly, and will look to involve him in the first team as and when he can.
One opportunity could come in the EFL Cup later this month, when United face the winner of either Reading or Luton Town.
Mengi is fifth choice at best, behind Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe.
He could be pushed down the queue by Marcos Rojo or Chris Smalling if they stay, while Phil Jones is also there.
Solskjaer is suggesting that Mengi could be a transcendent talent, who surges into the first team quickly, past his competitors.
His belief in the 18-year-old could be a reason why United are reluctant to spend money on a new centre-back this transfer window.
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