Manchester United’s decision in 2019 to not sign a striker in the summer transfer window was a highly controversial one.
It was also deliberate from manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who wanted to clear the path for Mason Greenwood to challenge for the first team.
Greenwood obliged, stepping up to play both centrally and on the right, repaying his boss with a record equalling 17 first team goals in his first full season.
Now a year later, Solskjaer has identified 2020’s version of Mason Greenwood: centre-back Teden Mengi.
Ready to break through
Centre-back is a position where United have adequate cover, unlike striker last summer, but there is still a big opening.
Harry Maguire’s place is secure for at least a couple of seasons, but alongside him, it is up for grabs.
Victor Lindelof is a player United can improve upon, and Eric Bailly is entering his fifth year at the club, still an enigma.
Axel Tuanzebe has lost momentum due to injuries, and Teden Mengi has a chance to put his own name into the mix.
Mengi has been training with the first team squad and the MEN report Mengi has been indefinitely promoted.
This is encouraging to see, and highlights why United have chosen not to sign an extra defender this summer. Solskjaer at least wants to test Mengi and see how ready he is.
At just 18, chances will not be too frequent for Mengi. Solskjaer told the BBC last week how it is more difficult to put a young defender into the first team than a striker.
He did admit that Mengi has rare traits, comparing his situation to Ajax putting full faith in Matthijs de Ligt.
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.”
He’s there on merit
Mengi is not in the first team as a cost-cutting exercise, or to fill a void. He is there on merit.
Last season he was outstanding for the under-23s, and he played a key role as captain for the FA Youth Cup side.
Mengi deserves his place with the first team squad, and like Greenwood, he is a talent who United simply cannot hold back.
He made his debut against LASK last month, has been training with the first team since June, and impressed in a friendly match with
In a summer which has been frustrating for United fans, Mengi’s rise is a good news story the club needs.
There should be plenty of opportunities for him over the next 12 months.
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