Timothy Fosu-Mensah, he started his career with Dutch side Ajax before making a move to the youth academy for Manchester United in 2014. Due to a series of injuries to United’s full backs in the current season, the 18 year old Fosu-Mensah found himself making a debut for Manchester Senior side at home against Arsenal, where he substituted Marcus Rojo in the left back role. And since then he has won over the hearts of many a people. Fosu-Mensah has been brilliant with his performances on both full back positions and has already become a crowd favorite.
With a number of good performances under his belt, people have started comparing the young Dutchman with club legend Gary Neville. So is he the next Gary Neville for Manchester United? Is he the one that will dominate the right back role at United for more than a decade? Is he the one who can provide some stability to the right flank? Let us look at the player at detail and then evaluate if he is “the next Gary Neville”?
Both of them do have a lot in common. Gary Neville was a hard tackling footballer. Neville had made a huge name for himself for his consistent performances all throughout a season. He was famous for his work-rate and professionalism. He was one of the most determined defenders to have donned the United jersey under Sir Alex Ferguson. Fosu-Mensah has all the same qualities under him. He is not afraid to make good hard tackles on the opponents even inside his own box. He makes sure that he gets the ball and doesn’t concede a foul. Even though he conceded a penalty in the recent FA Cup semi-final match, if you see his tackle he did get the ball and many have said that it wasn’t a penalty. In all the matches Fosu-Mensah has played this season, he has been consistent with his performance. He was particularly brilliant in the away match against Tottenham. He has been consistent with his performances in both right back and left back position. He shows a good work rate and has been quite professional on the field till now. Gary had a habit of forming good partnerships with right sided midfielders ahead of him and always seemed to lay a pass to the midfielder and then make an overlapping run and get into the offensive position in the opposition box. Timothy Fosu-Mensah has been doing that time and time again on both the flanks for Manchester United’s senior side.
But there quite a few things that the young Dutchman doesn’t have in common with Neville. Gary was never known to be the quickest or the strongest right back on the field. He was more known to be a tactically intelligent defender who was able to read the games with perfection. He was known to be a defensive minded right back. Fosu-Mensah, on the other hand, looks very quick and quite strong. He has been good in many take-ons and has muscled out victorious with his power. He has looked to be an intelligent full-back quite a few times, but whether he can read the games with good success is something that we cannot just asses at this stage. We at least need to give him one full season to conclude on that. Fosu-Mensah doesn’t look like to be defensive minded. He has been seen running up a lot and snatching the ball from the opponent central midfielders and running forward towards the opposition box. Gary has played his entire career in the right back role and has excelled there. Fosu-Mensah in his short duration in the first team has been seen in quite a few positions. He has played in both the fullback roles, plus has been seen in a center back role in corners when fellow center backs are up in the opponent box. Such things were hardly seen from Gary. Fosu-Mensah also has expressed that even though he enjoys the full back position, playing in the center is something that he really loves. We hardly have any image of Gary playing in a central role.
So where does that leave Fosu-Mensah? Honestly, I don’t think he is the next Gary Neville for Manchester United. At least it is too early to make statements like that. The teenager offers a lot more than Neville did when he was 18 years old. Somewhere down the line I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes an out and out center back. Something like what Sergio Ramos did at Real Madrid. The teenager has the skill sets to thrive in a central defensive midfielder role too, and has done that already for the reserves