It is often said that managers discover about their players more during a time of crisis. This may be especially true and if it is, Jose Mourinho could finally look at the option of having either Matteo Darmian or Timothy Fosu Mensah. Antonio Valencia has been the first choice right back at United under Mourinho, but the Portuguese need to be aware that injuries are the part of the game and in that case, he must have his options available all the time.
Darmian and Fosu Mensah, though, are natural defenders and Mourinho will see the positive effects of playing a player in his best position through Eric Bailly.
Darmian was one of the club’s many acquisitions in Louis van Gaal’s final summer transfer window at Manchester United. He cost £13 million and the Italian did have a good start to life at Old Trafford before faltering towards the end of the season. He fell out of favour even when van Gaal was in charge, thus making the probability of a comeback under Mourinho extremely tough. After having failed to secure a move back to Italy during the summer, Darmian will at least hope to impress Mourinho in the next few months and get back into the first-team reckoning.
Yet to feature in the league this season, Darmian will receive an extremely lucky break – primarily through injuries – in order to feature in the first-team. His only appearance came in the Europa League when he had three tackles and a relatively poor passing accuracy of 76%. Even though he is a defence oriented player, Darmian made two key passes in the game.
United recently offered a new long-term contract for Fosu Mensah. At just 18 years of age, he represents the future and there is every possibility that he could become the next Gary Neville. First-team opportunities, as a youngster, under Mourinho will be very hard to come by. Just one appearance in the League Cup against Northampton Town is not enough to judge the quality of the player this season. Last year, though, he was featuring more often than not. Fosu Mensah averaged 1.5 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per game.
His passing accuracy of 73.2% was just lower than that of Darmian, but it is understandable that he will make some wrong decisions due to the lack of experience. Right now, Darmian can be a great backup to Valencia. Persisting with Darmian in the long-term may not have many rewards, but it is the exact opposite with Fosu Mensah. Even if Mourinho does not give him many opportunities at Old Trafford, he has the quality to shine at a loan spell. This may be the passage back into the United first team as of now.