Scouting Manchester United's Rising Star Timothy Fosu-Mensah

Paul Ansorge@@utdrantcastFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2016

Fosu-Mensah in action against Tottenham Hotspur last season.
Fosu-Mensah in action against Tottenham Hotspur last season.Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Timothy Fosu-Mensah is emerging as a force within Manchester United's academy ranks. But what is it that has United's youth-team followers talking about him as a future first-team player?

Signed from Ajax in the summer of 2014, the 18-year-old finally made his debut for United's under-18s in November of that year, after "being forced to wait for international clearance," per the club's official website

In an interview with United Blog The People's Person, regular reserve-watcher Ian Brunton said of his debut: 

Every now and again we get to see a player who makes an instant impression the first time that player is seen in action. Players like [Ravel] Morrison, [Paul] Pogba, [Adnan] Januzaj and [James] Wilson in recent seasons and so it was, for me at least, with Fosu-Mensah.

He looked so composed with the ball at his feet, never rushed and although United got well beaten that day, Fosu-Mensah really did stand out as he dominated his area of the pitch.

Then-United academy coach Paul McGuiness said of his first season, per the club website:

He's a lad who was very good in the FA Youth Cup games. He played in midfield and at the back and, as a new addition, settling into the club takes time. Obviously, he's shown some really good qualities. He has very good acceleration over the ground to win the ball and then break forward. He has shown some outstanding work.

This season, despite being eligible for the under-18s, he has swiftly moved up to the under-21s, for whom he has been an important player, making 11 starts and one substitute appearance.

Doron Salomon, another United reserve watcher, said: "He is impressively versatile, having played in both full-back positions, at centre-back and in central-midfield this season. I am not sure which role he will end up in yet, although box-to-box central midfield seems to suit him.

"He is ridiculously powerful and his first few steps always seem to give him an edge on opponents. He is improving on the ball but I still think that must get better at times. He increasingly looks like an attacking threat, making runs into the area and getting shots away.

"In some ways surprising he hasn't scored more but I guess that shows his finishing has to improve."

His defensive contributions are notable, too; witness this stunning tackle against Wolfsburg in the UEFA Youth League from the right-back:

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Brunton added

He is an excellent passer of the ball and brings team-mates into the game very well but his biggest strength is his reading of the game.

The way he has the ability to see what is happening around him and reacts far quicker than most. That means that he can snuff out danger very quickly with his well timed interceptions and tackles.

The Dutch youngster played right-back against Manchester City's Elite Development Squad, and it was his long pass that started the move for United's goal, and his all-round performance made an important difference.

While there is room for improvement in his use of the ball, he has a keen eye for a pass. Perhaps unsurprisingly given their shared Ajax history, there is a resemblance to Daley Blind in the style of his passing from centre-back, as these two examples show.

Bleacher Report

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If Louis van Gaal somehow stays at the club long enough to give Fosu-Mensah his debut, it is easy to imagine him playing the youngster at centre-back.

Salomon said: "He could still be an excellent ball-playing centre-back. He is so good at relieving pressure on team. A few times [during Monday's 1-0 against win against Reading] he won the ball deep and before you knew it had moved 30 yards higher up the pitch."

If Van Gaal stays or—in the seemingly likely event of his departure—United's next manager continues to look to the club's youth ranks for talent, and if he can stay free of injury, Fosu-Mensah looks a sure bet for an eventual first-team debut.

Whether he makes the grade or not, there is clearly a huge amount of potential in this rising star.

Quotations obtained firsthand where not otherwise stated.

Youth-team appearance data courtesy of YouthHawk.co.uk.

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