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Crystal Palace have completed their third major transfer of the season after they signed versatile defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah on a season-long loan from heavyweights Manchester United (Goal).
The 19-year old becomes the third signing of new manager Frank de Boer, who has already signed Jairo Riedewald from Ajax on a permanent deal and Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan from Chelsea. The Dutchman is very well known for encouraging young talents, and the signings he has made so far at the Selhurst Park indicate that he is trying to inculcate a similar philosophy at the club, that worked so very well for him at Ajax.
Fosu-Mensah, ever since he broke into the first team at Manchester United under Louis van Gaal, has shown glimpses of what a brilliant talent he is, but hasn’t been able to nail down a place in the starting setup. Current manager Jose Mourinho also rates the youngster highly, but with so much competition in the squad at Old Trafford, Jose has decided to loan him out in order for him to gain first-team experience at Premier League level. Last season, the young Dutchman only made 11 appearances under Jose, and in total, has played only 21 times for the Red Devils.
The versatile defender has largely played as a right-back with United, but can play on the opposite side of the defence, as a centre-half, and even as a defensive midfielder too. He adjusts to all the roles quite comfortably. This is one of the major plus points for Palace to have the 19-year old in their ranks.
Under De Boer, the Eagles have switched to a 3-4-3 setup, and are having to play midfielder Luka Milivojevic as the right-sided centre-back. This is where Fosu-Mensah could make an impact as he can easily slot into the three-man defence effectively. He has demonstrated the defensive nous and awareness, and also possesses the ability to build play from the back, which is something De Boer desires from his teams. With his imposing physical stature, he could prove to be quite a presence in the defence.
What more, his ability to play on the right-hand side of the defence would mean that De Boer could easily use him as the wing-back on the right flank in place of Andros Townsend, who has much more value in the attacking third of the pitch. Fosu-Mensah has the pace and the technique to maraud down into the opposition half and with a giant like Christian Benteke to aim crosses at, the combination could turn out to be quite an effective one for the Eagles.
There have been a few lapses in concentration so far in his fledgeling career, yes, but the 19-year old has largely displayed great maturity and has the intelligence and awareness to succeed at this level. Given De Boer’s history of getting the best out of young players, Palace fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about.