With Manchester United’s academy, as ever, currently bursting with first-class potential, Teden Mengi looks like one of the best of the bunch. As a centre-back with a knack for leadership, the Englishman could be the future of United’s defence.
Why Teden Mengi is the Future of Manchester United’s Defence
Not Looking Good Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s Retirement
The Manchester United defence has never looked the same since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. His departure coincided with that of legendary centre-back pairing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, and two of the best full-backs’ in the club’s history in Patrice Evra and Gary Neville. All four of these world-class defenders left in quick succession and since then, United’s backline has not been up to that standard.
While both left and right-back seem to be covered, with Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams young stars for the left, and Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who is one of the best right-backs in the league, both promising on the other side, centre-back is another story.
Until the arrival of Harry Maguire last summer, the Red Devils had not had a good centre-back who is able to remain injury-free. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are among the many questionable players who managed to become the first choice in United’s central defence, and Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly also both have faults.
With Maguire already at the age of 27, he does not have an abundance of years left at a top-level, and Mengi looks like a prime candidate to replace him, or even be a partner should he rise through the ranks quickly enough.
Mengi has so many qualities that make him a perfect long-term future centre-back. Currently aged 17-years-old, Mengi is a regular in United’s U23s, and this is rightfully deserved
One of his strongest attributes is his ability to pick out a pass. The Englishman seems to have an eye for a long ball, and the ability to make it work, switching the play with through balls into wingers and strikers almost flawlessly. This is a quality that makes some of the best defenders in the world, such as Virgil van Dijk, so good, and could be key to Mengi’s success.
Moreover, the youngster is incredibly talented at tackling. He has made some truly exceptional last-ditch challenges for United’s youth team, another attribute vital for a world-class centre-back.
Pace is another attribute lacking in many centre-backs which Mengi possesses. This can be useful both up and down the pitch. At the back, he can use this to his advantage chasing fast attackers, and he does this well. Furthermore, he uses it to dribble forwards, causing problems for the opposition defence with an overload of players. Having a defender who can do this so well is vital, and is yet another reason why Mengi can become a special player.
Finally, the 17-year-old is a leader. He captains the U18s when he plays there, and it is surely only a matter of time before that title becomes his in the U23s as well.
Mengi can be a fantastic defender, with bags of potential. With the right experience and balance of first-team action against a loan spell, he could become one of the world’s best centre-backs.