Tim Fosu-Mensah has joined Bayer Leverkusen from Manchester United, the 23-year-old signing an three-year contract at the BayArena, but what else is there to know about the Dutch international defender?
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Full-back/Centre-back/Defensive midfielder
Country: Netherlands (3 caps)/Ghana
Born in Amsterdam to Ghanaian parents in January 1998, Fosu-Mensah joined the fabled Ajax youth academy at the age of eight. It was there that he first caught United’s attention during the Future Cup, before making the move to England in 2014. Capable of playing anywhere across the defence or in holding midfield, he featured in the Red Devils’ U18 team alongside the likes of Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Axel Tuenzebe and Dean Henderson.
After working his way up and impressing with the reserves, fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal handed Fosu-Mensah his senior debut in a 3-2 win against Arsenal, which was also the game where Rashford made his English Premier League bow. Having replaced Marcos Rojo at left-back on that occasion, Van Gaal then used the versatile teenager in an array of positions as he featured in seven of the remaining 11 league games of 2015/16, also claiming an FA Cup winner’s medal.
While less of a regular the following year under Jose Mourinho, he did pick up more silverware against none other than his boyhood club Ajax as United won the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League, with Fosu-Mensah an unused sub in the final in Stockholm. Determined to have more playing time, he then spent the next two seasons out on loan at Crystal Palace and Fulham, making 33 league appearances with them.
It was also during the spell with Palace that he earned his first senior cap for the Netherlands. Having earned well over 30 caps for the country’s youth teams, Dick Advocaat gave him the full 90 minutes in a 4-0 loss to France in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in August 2017, aged 19 and seven months. The defender has since earned two more caps in friendly wins over Scotland and Portugal. The latter fixture saw him play his first senior international game with long-time friend and teammate Donny van de Beek, having been together at the Ajax academy, national youth teams and, as of this season, at Manchester United. However, they are once again apart at club level, with Fosu-Mensah leaving after only 30 first-team appearances at Old Trafford.
Plays a bit like: Lars Bender
The news at the end of last year that both Lars and Sven Bender are to retire after this season undoubtedly forced Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes into action. And it appears he has found the perfect replacement for the former. Ex-captain Lars has been at the BayArena since 2009 and played in a variety of positions across the back line and central midfield – just like the younger Fosu-Mensah. Both confident on the ball wherever they play, it’s an uncanny replacement with even greater speed and athleticism best suited to the high-intensity game Die Werkself use.
Did you know?
While possessing the physical strength to cut it at centre-back and holding midfield at 6’3’’, Fosu-Mensah is also no slouch. In fact, while on loan at Fulham, he was recorded as the fastest player in the Premier League in 2018/19 at 21.9 mph, fractionally ahead of now Bayern Munich winger Leroy Sane, Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Ruben Vinagre and Manchester City’s Kyle Walker.
What they're saying
"I think he is a better full back than a central defender but he is from origin at Ajax always playing right centre midfield or right centre half. This is his position." - Louis van Gaal, who gave Fosu-Mensah his Manchester United debut
"Timothy is a player who has great pace and incredible physical ability. In today’s game you need players with strength and speed and he is an individual with that and as well as defence can also play in midfield." - Frank de Boer, Fosu-Mensah’s first manager at Crystal Palace
"I have played against him twice this season, and even last season, he had me really well under control and I told him how happy I was to play against him." - Former Manchester City and now Bayern Munich winger Leroy Sane on his toughest opponent in the Premier League