Teden Mengi was absent from Manchester United’s under-23 clash with Liverpool at the weekend. The reason for this appears to have been down to an imminent loan switch.

The Mail report Mengi is heading to Derby County on loan, where he will work under Wayne Rooney.

Mengi is very highly regarded at United, making his debut at the end of last season against LASK.

He has been training with the first team on and off since June and has been touted as one of the stars of the future.

Manchester United Training Session
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

A recent backwards step

Mengi’s meteoric rise has shown signs of slowing lately. Quite frankly, he has not played particularly well for the under-23s this season.

In his last two under-23 appearances the team shipped 10 goals against Chelsea and Leicester, and he was also on the wrong end of a 4-0 hammering in the EFL Trophy against Accrington.

None of these results were strictly Mengi’s fault, but he did not play well in any of them. This was not the powerhouse, leader of a defender we saw last season.

Perhaps the recent lack of football in 2020 played a part. Mengi like many, went months without a game, and after spending weeks with the first team, found it challenging mentally to step back down a level.

New challenge

If motivation or just being stuck in a rut was the problem for Mengi, this loan move could be the best thing for him right now.

 

The loan move to Derby will challenge him, and give him the opportunity to show that he is ready for first team football after all.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has high hopes for him. He said on the eve of the season that he was waiting for the right moment to give him a chance.

Solskjaer told BBC Sport: “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.”

The next few months will give Mengi a chance to show whether he is the ‘special’ defender United hope he will be, or if his recent dip in performance is a bigger concern, a case of a player being hyped too soon.

Manchester United v LASK - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: Second Leg
(Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Strong performances out on loan will give Mengi a shot to get back into the first team mix for next season, and prove United don’t need to sign a new centre-back in the summer.

Mengi is just 18-years-old and United are pretty excited about him. Not many young centre-backs even get loaned out by the club at his age.

The Championship can be an unforgiving league. Rooney’s Derby sit 18th out of 24. If Mengi can come through the loan with his reputation enhanced then he will have done very well.

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