Manchester United’s midfield options are thinning after injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.
No new additions seem imminent in the transfer market, which could lead to an unlikely chance for a returning Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
Back in the summer we looked ahead at Fosu-Mensah’s season prospects.
We wrote that his best chance of making it at United after Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s arrival, is his reinvention as a midfielder.
This is a position he has played in before in the academy, and once for the first team under Jose Mourinho.
But the problem back in June apart from his rehab from an ACL injury, was that it was not possible to see him getting a chance.
After all he had Pogba, McTominay, Fred, Matic and Pereira all in front of him, and then, surely, there would be central midfield signings to come in too?
Remarkably there were no midfield signings in the summer, and despite a growing need right now, none yet look likely this month.
Pogba and McTominay are out injured for at least all of January, and Fred and Nemanja Matic face being played to the point where further fitness problems are inevitable.
That leaves Fosu-Mensah’s competition as Pereira – who has looked uncomfortable in a central midfield role at times – and youngsters Dylan Levitt and James Garner, who Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not look ready to trust.
Unsatisfactory but intriguing option
Manchester United’s midfield needs new faces. And we want a proven player. Fosu-Mensah isn’t proven, but he can still help..
He’s an extra body, and that will help in giving Fred and Nemanja Matic a rest. And if he shines, then get ready for the ‘like a new signing’ mantra to be trotted out.
It is always difficult for any player coming off a serious injury, let alone a player adjusting position, in a team which is being scrutinised on a game by game basis. He will need patience, which United fans are running out of right now.
He’s certainly a talent. But he’s lost his way since breaking through under Louis van Gaal, being cast aside on loans under Jose Mourinho and not making the most of them, before his injury blow.
He’s represented Holland at international level and was the fastest player in the Premier League last season. It’s now a question whether he can get up to speed for United.
Fosu-Mensah will be happy to get a chance. It seemed like more of a pipe dream back in the summer. Now it could actually happen.
He is back in full training and it looks very possible that he could be involved as this month progresses. He may have to prove his fitness in an under-23 game first, but he’s getting closer.
The 22-year-old spoke to the club website yesterday about his versatility and desire to succeed at United: “I can play across the back four or even sitting in midfield. It’s wonderful to play for this club. I don’t want this to stop. I’m definitely excited for the future – I think it looks very bright.”
Time is running out for him. His contract expires in June, although United do have the option to extend it by a further year.
It is up to him to earn the extension. That extra bit of incentive could help. An unlikely opportunity is opening up.
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