Manchester United teenager Timothy Fosu-Mensah is having a medical at Crystal Palace ahead of a season-long loan move.
The 19 year old Dutchman will link up again with his former Ajax boss Frank de Boer, who was first-team manager when Fosu-Mensah completed his move to Old Trafford in 2014. Despite never playing for the Ajax first team, de Boer is well-aware of Fosu-Mensah’s potential from his control over the entire Ajax youth system. He has made 21 appearances for United since his first-team debut under Louis van Gaal in the 3-2 victory over Arsenal last February.
He will arrive in South London for the 2017/18 season in the hope of regular first-team football and invaluable Premier League experience. The Netherlands U-21 international will provide Palace with versatility and cover in a number of positions in defence and midfield. Deployed as a right-back towards the end of last season, Fosu-Mensah is perfectly adaptable to playing out wide, at centre-back or in his preferred defensive midfield position. He recently said: “If the manager wants me to play centre-back, I will play there. If he wants me to play defensive midfield, I will play there. If he needs me to play right-back, I will play there. I like them all and can play them all so it is not a problem.”
United boss Jose Mourinho gave the green light for the transfer after concluding big deals for centre-back Victor Lindelof from Benfica and defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic from Chelsea. In the build-up to the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid, Mourinho confirmed Fosu-Mensah’s absence was due to a loan move. He said: “No Tim Fosu-Mensah because, in this moment, Tim is probably going on loan to another club. So we made the decision not to travel with him.”
Unconfirmed sources from Palace’s 3-2 friendly victory last night at Merstham FC also say Frank de Boer told a reporter Fosu-Mensah was due to join up in Palace first-team training today ahead of the move.
Fosu-Mensah will become Palace’s third signing of the summer after completing deals for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 21, from Chelsea and Jairo Riedewald, 20, from Ajax. The average age of de Boer’s signings will be just 20 years old, as he begins to implement his new style at the club. If the Eagles begin the season with the expected 3-4-3 system, Fosu-Mensah would be more likely to play at right wing-back or as the right-sided centre-back. Depending on de Boer’s tactical approach, it would free up Andros Townsend from the unfamiliar role at wing-back to support Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke in the front three.
It’s widely considered Palace still require a host of new signings to ease the transition from counter-attacking football to de Boer’s possession-based game. Fosu-Mensah should help with keeping the ball and showing quality and composure up from the back through to the midfield. Riedewald and Loftus-Cheek were also signed with this new style in mind. By going Dutch again with the signing of Fosu-Mensah, the early signs of de Boer’s football project look all the more promising. The Johan Cruyff philosophy is beginning to be embedded beneath south London soil.