Teden Mengi has been speaking of his excitement after landing a loan move to Derby County.
Mengi, 18, has joined Wayne Rooney’s Derby until the rest of the season.
It is a good move for the promising youngster, who risked stagnating in United’s under-23 team.
Mengi’s comments seemed to underline those concerns. He has been training with the first team on and off since June, and upon returning to the under-23 football in November, he wasn’t quite as dominant as the coaches would have hoped.
Stepping up to first team level is a big jump. Mengi is confident he can excel, saying he needed the challenge.
He told Derby’s official website: “I’m really excited and I’m buzzing to be here. When I first heard Derby County were interested, it was a no-brainer for me to be in the Championship against good opponents and to be playing men’s football. I am really happy to be here
“I think I did well in the Under-23s last season so I think I need a new challenge. I am a fighter with a willingness to defend and a ball-playing centre back and vocal as well. I am ready to kick on and this is a brilliant opportunity for me.”
Mengi added that he spoke with Derby boss Rooney about the move and with United’s coaching staff, who felt it would be a good switch for him to make.
The teenager made his first team debut for United at the end of last season as a substitute against LASK in the Europa League.
His time spent with the first team earned encouraging reviews from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but he found his path to playing time blocked by Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe returning to fitness, and he was moved back down to the under-23s to get game time.
Mentally that will have been tough after so long at first team level, and so this loan will be the step up he has been craving.
Mengi has played 30 games at under-18 level and 28 for the under-23s. Even if he only gets 10 starts at Derby between now and the end of the season, the experience will be so valuable to his development.
The youngster is only 18, and so you never quite know how he will cope with the challenge first team football brings especially in an unforgiving league like the Championship. Just to have the opportunity is a big step.
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