After seeing a number of his academy teammates leave on loan, Teden Mengi would probably have expected Manchester United to sanction a loan move this summer.
Axel Tuanzebe (Aston Villa), Di’Shon Bernard (Hull City) and Will Fish (Stockport County) all secured season-long loan moves away from Old Trafford.
But Mengi remained and following the signing of Raphael Varane, plus the return of Phil Jones, the 19-year-old goes into the season as United’s sixth choice centre back.
The prospects of Mengi featuring for the first team barring an almighty injury crisis are slim.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean his progress and development will stagnate, it could actually be quite the opposite.
Teden Mengi will learn from the very best at United
After finishing the second part of last year’s campaign on loan at Wayne Rooney’s Derby County and making nine Championship appearances (Transfermarkt), Mengi’s situation will no doubt be re-reviewed in the New Year.
Mengi started United’s first three pre-season games alongside Tuanzebe when the club’s more senior centre backs were either on holiday or playing at the Olympics.
Following the re-signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, United’s array of attacking options is frightening, and training against the calibre and range of forwards Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side possess will only stand Mengi in good stead.
For a young centre-back, training against two of football’s greatest ever goalscorers in Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani is going to be an eye-opening experience.
Mengi’s concentration and positioning will improve, this was highlighted when he lost Charlie Austin in pre-season. Cavani and Ronaldo’s explosive movement inside the six-yard box means defenders cannot switch off for a millisecond or they will be punished.
Not just about Ronaldo and Cavani
Whilst Mengi will constantly be looking over his shoulder training against Ronaldo and Cavani, his jockeying and decision making will be tested against pacey tricky dribblers like Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga.
Throw into the mix the small matter of Jesse Lingard, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba bringing their creativity and goalscoring threat from deep, Mengi’s defensive education will be pushed and tested in every possible way.
The defence v attack drills at Carrington will benefit everyone, but the knowledge and experience Mengi will gain training against world class players will be priceless.
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