Teden Mengi was unlucky to be on the losing team as Derby slipped to defeat to Reading on Monday.
This poor result for a struggling Rams side should not take away the fact that simply by being there, Mengi is making strong progress.
Mengi was making his sixth Championship start and eighth game of his loan spell in total.
The move has been really beneficial to him, to get his first taste of competitive football.
Up until this point, Mengi’s 2020/21 season was shaping up as an underwhelming one, stuck in United’s under-23s after breaking into the first team squad last season.
At just 18, Mengi has huge potential, but there were signs his performances for the under-23s were beginning to stagnate at the end of 2020. In his last game of the year for the 23s the team conceded six goals.
The loan move has given the teenager the boost he needed, and has turned his season into a success, where he is making forward progress.
Rooney wants him back
Derby boss Wayne Rooney has made clear there is a place for Mengi at the club next season on loan, and has encouraged him to make the move.
Mengi returning to Derby does hinge on Rooney retaining his role. Derby sit 19th in the Championship and are at risk of relegation.
For United, it would be a sensible move to let Mengi rejoin. When you consider how few games Axel Tuanzebe has played this season, there just doesn’t appear to be a pathway to regular games for the youngster yet.
Mengi’s performances for Derby have been mixed, as you would expect for a teenager adapting to Championship football. It’s all great experience, but it has underlined why United should not rush him.
A full year at Derby next season could help Mengi’s development, and the fact Rooney wants him back, speaks volumes.
From a season which appeared to be heading nowhere from a progression point of view, Mengi’s season has turned into a valuable one.
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