Manchester United teenager Timothy Fosu-Mensah looked up to Daley Blind when the pair were both on the books at Ajax and once asked for a pair of the Dutchman’s boots.
The pair both joined United in 2014, with Blind a senior first-team player returning off from a World Cup and Fosu-Mensah as a teenager for the Manchester United youth academy. However, Fosu-Mensah just had to wait for only two years to find himself competing with the Dutch international for a place in the heart of the Red Devils defence.
Last year Louis Van Gaal gave the young Dutch his first-team debut in a 3-2 Premier League win over Arsenal at the left back. The 18-year-old impressed in games Arsenal and West Ham during Antonio Valencia’s absence and was appropriately rewarded with another four-year contract in October. This year he only started in two matches, one in an EFL cup tie and another one in a Europa league fixture against Zorya.
And while game time has proved hard to come by under Jose Mourinho, Fosu-Mensah remains positive and feels grateful for whenever he does play.
Reminiscing about his time at Ajax, he told Inside United that the 18-year-old has been learning lessons from his elder teammate even before they arrived at Old Trafford.
“When I was 14, we would ask the players if we could have their boots and I asked Daley for his,” Mensah told the official Manchester United monthly magazine.
“His feet were so small and I had much bigger feet than him at the time! [laughs] I still took them, though.”
“I can remember watching Daley play for the Ajax second team. At that time I think I was with the Under-14s or Under-15s. And another time I remember him playing for the Under-19s and it was when they had to win to be the champions.”
Fosu-Mensah is naturally a centre back, but he can also operate in the defensive midfield role as well as the left side of the back four. With Chris Smalling, Antonio valencia, and Eric Bailly out injured for a long period, the Dutchman will be hoping for more game time now.
Photo by O.Taillon