Manchester United have assembled a deep roster for the upcoming season. However, playing time will be scarce for some of the youngsters who do not have a lot of EPL experience. And with an eye towards their development, a loan move would be the proper course of action at the moment.
That is exactly what Jose Mourinho is probably thinking right now, based on recent events. Manchester United have decided to loan two of their top young talents only days away from the start of the EPL season.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson will join Leeds United, and Timothy Fosu-Mensah is set to sign for Crystal Palace. Both players will leave on season-long deals, so they are set to return to Old Trafford ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.
There is no doubt both players are extremely talented. However, loaning them out is the best option for them at the moment.
Fosu-Mensah is the most versatile of the two, as he can play lots of positions on defence. But United already have Daley Blind to feature on that role. And even though the 19-year-old thrives as a centre back, he would have been forced to battle with Victor Lindelöf, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Blind and Marcos Rojo – when he returns – for playing time.
As a result, Fosu-Mensah found himself down the pecking order at Old Trafford after the £31 million signing of Lindelof. He will sign a season-long deal at Palace, and could debut this weekend against Huddersfield if the paperwork goes through.
Fosu-Mensah broke into United’s first team under Louis van Gaal during the 2015-16 season, making 10 senior appearances. However, he only featured four times in the Premier League last season. And knowing the lack of playing time could impact his development, United are making the right move here. He is talented enough to become a first-choice player for Palace as the season advances.
Borthwick-Jackson’s case for playing time is even more complicated. He spent most of last season playing for the U23 side, but his prospect of getting regular first-team football at United were close to none. United have Matteo Darmian, Luke Shaw and Blind as options for the left-back position. And when Rojo returns from injury, he can add depth on that position as role.
Recent performances have not helped Borthwick-Jackson’s case either. He signed a season-long loan deal with Wolves last summer but he only managed six league appearances. That kind of playing time on a lower level such as the Championship is not going to impress Mourinho. In fact, Borthwick-Jackson was not part of United’s summer tour in United States, and travelled with the Academy side to Austria instead.
Considering his prospects of playing for the first team were not going to improve any time soon, he took the chance of joining Leeds as soon as it arised. In fact, the left-back is expected to be confirmed as a Leeds player next week after agreeing a deal until the end of the season. He could make his debut against Port Vale at Elland Road in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.
Mourinho made the right move here. Why having two talented youngsters if they are not going to play soon? Loaning them out allows them to gain some valuable first-team experience. And who knows? Maybe one day they can return to Old Trafford as regular first-team members.