Timothy Fosu-Mensah is free to leave Manchester United this month, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said last week.

Solskjaer was quoted by The Mail: “I’m not sure if Timo is going to stay or [if] he’s going to take an option now.

“He’s not played enough, so of course he’s been allowed to speak to clubs, with a view to leaving now in January.”

Fosu-Mensah’s contract expires in the summer. United made their position even clearer at the weekend by leaving him out of the squad entirely, while Brandon Williams came in from the cold at right-back.

The MEN report Fosu-Mensah is in advanced talks with Bayer Leverkusen over a £1.5 million move.

RB Leipzig v Manchester United: Group H - UEFA Champions League
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Solskjaer has been more than fair

Solskjaer has been more than fair to Fosu-Mensah. He played him at the start of the season, and at the end of the last one, even giving him minutes in the Champions League and the FA Cup semi-final.

Fosu-Mensah made his first United start in July since 2017.

But after having the past year to assess him, Solskjaer has taken the judgement that Fosu-Mensah just is not good enough right now to warrant a regular spot. Nor is he deserving of a long contract.

While it seemed possible Fosu-Mensah’s versatility to play multiple roles could enable him to play a John O’Shea type utility role in the squad, the Dutchman has rarely even made the bench this season. He has been negatively impacted by league substitutes being reduced to seven from nine.

Solskjaer is right, Fosu-Mensah needs to go and play. He should not be content to be sitting around, and renewing his deal and sending him out on loan would do him few favours. It is best for both parties to cut the cord.

Fosu-Mensah’s problems go back years

Fosu-Mensah has not developed as United had hoped. Bad luck has played a big part, as did Jose Mourinho’s lack of faith, combined with poor loans.

 

It was Louis van Gaal who handed Fosu-Mensah his debut, and had the Dutch boss been kept on, the defender’s career could have worked out very differently.

Jose Mourinho did not invest much time in Fosu-Mensah, selecting him in fewer league games in 2016/17 than Van Gaal did.

The next season he was loaned to Crystal Palace, who saw manager Ronald de Boer fired after just four games. Fosu-Mensah then lost his place to an emerging Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

The next year a loan followed to a Fulham side on a recruitment scramble. They were on their second manager by time Fosu-Mensah picked up an ACL injury which cost him a year of his career.

The defender did well to bounce back and make his United comeback, something which seemed improbable at times.

Fosu-Mensah’s early career breakthrough earned him a call-up to the Netherlands international squad. This seems a long way off right now. He needs to get back to this level.

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

The 23-year-old has plenty of ability, and he now needs to head out and show it.

Even at this point we don’t know what his best position is. Whether it is at full-back, in central defence, or even if he could have a future role as a midfielder. He needs to go and explore this and he can only do this by playing regularly and fighting for it.

While his United career will go down as one of unfulfilled potential, he accomplished his dream too. Now it is time to head out and carve his own path to a successful post-United career.

You cannot keep a player out of ‘what might have been’ and sentiment. Letting him go is the right decision, and in the Dutchman’s best interests.

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