It’s almost as much of a surprise that United are extending their contract until next year. Fosu-Mensah went more than three years without playing for the first team and his loan spell with Fulham was so punishing that Claudio Ranieri tried to send him back to United, who rejected the return of his own player. Still, the MEN revealed that United exercised the one-year option in April.
Fosu-Mensah has been ditched by Stellar Group agency, but his reputation is on the rise again, having ousted Diogo Dalot as the fourth-choice full-back at Crystal Palace last month. Dalot’s side were particularly pessimistic on the eve of this game, with the Portuguese widely seen as Luke Shaw’s replacement. By 7 p.m. on game night, it was clear why.
Dalot made an inconsolable figure entering Carrington over the past month and, although he flew to Cologne, was too unfit to ever bench. Rather than go on vacation, he continued to seek treatment for an unspecified injury.
The 21-year-old raced with one of United’s fitness coaches in the open training session ahead of the quarter-final and, in a squad lacking impact players, Dalot would have been more worthy of rolling the dice against Sevilla as Fosu-Mensah. . His game-changing ability was crucial in last year’s 3-2 triumph over Southampton and at Paris Saint-Germain four days later.
Dalot still has three years to fulfill his contract with United and despite having a season canceled, he should not be written off. Brandon Williams has become a growing responsibility in the absence of Luke Shaw and Dalot is able to play left-back. Fosu-Mensah was hooked at halftime with United behind West Ham last month.
The sight of Joshua Kimmich and Alphonso Davies flushing Barcelona will have been sobering for United, whose £ 50million right-back is still hitting a force field ahead of the final third. United’s trial for Davies in 2017-18 never happened and he is now one of the best full-backs in the world. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has to study Kimmich and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quick approach.
Dalot has one assist less than Wan-Bissaka, who has left 21 more times for United. Shaw is a proactive full-back but has failed to create a Premier League goal all season and recorded a passing accuracy of 33.8%.
Shaw had to overcome the emergence of Williams and United’s mid-season resumption began with his recall during Tranmere’s FA Cup annihilation. Their form suffered without him, winning just two of their last six regulation times, and Shaw also added a string to his arc by placing himself as left center-back.
The fragile Dalot arrived at United injured and his fragility deprived him of even appearing against LASK this month. His last three starts against Club Brugge, Derby and Norwich in the cups have been dismal and denied him league minutes.
Solskjaer was impressed with Fosu-Mensah’s attitude in training after an anterior cruciate ligament injury and pushed back for the Dutchman. Solskjaer has recovered from his own knee injury and this empathy may have brought Fosu-Mensah back into the fold, which could also console Dalot.
As unsatisfactory as United’s full-back situation is, arranging a loan for Dalot is in his best interest. Consistent playing time at a decent level could lead to a first call-up in Portugal’s senior squad and a stellar season would leave him well placed to be part of the European Championship. Joao Cancelo has disappointed at Manchester City and Leicester’s Ricardo Pereira is set to be sidelined for the start of the new season.
United thought outside the box to sign Dalot as a teenager for £ 19million when Jose Mourinho preferred players with significantly more miles. His intermittent first season was encouraging and Dalot was the only United player to boldly claim Presnel Kimpembe handled his speculative shot at Parc des Princes.
He had more impact in Europe than Fosu-Mensah.