Mengi ready for Man Utd first team after Solskjaer praise

The 18-year-old centre-back has been impressing at Old Trafford and could be in line for more first-team minutes this season.

Manchester United defender Teden Mengi is ready to take his chance in the first team after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer piled praise on the centre-back.

The 18-year-old was promoted to the senior team during lockdown and made his debut off the bench in the Europa League clash against LASK in August before travelling with the squad to Germany for the knockout tournament to end the competition.

United are in the market for a centre-back before the transfer window closes next month and regardless of whether or not Solskjaer manages to strengthen in that position, he is looking to give Mengi a chance.

“We always had that in the back of our minds that our academy will provide players and Teden has definitely impressed me. It’s different trusting defenders on the big stage, of course it is,” Solskjaer told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“You’ve got to make sure he’s ready for it, you see examples of Ajax, who play in a different league, but Matthijs de Ligt… they made him captain when he was 18. You can see something special in them. Teden’s got something special in him. It’s about picking the right moment to give him a chance.”

Mengi was in action against Salford City on Wednesday night and it was another composed performance from the teenager. Gary Neville, who was on commentary duty, praised the 18-year-old for his calmness and control and the centre-back was a key part of United’s 6-0 win at the Peninsula Stadium.

While he enjoys playing for Neil Wood’s side, the experience Mengi received in the first team has helped push him on and he’s hoping for more chances this season.

“It’s been really beneficial. Learning how they play alongside them and the difference of speed in the play, I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a welcoming environment. They will come and speak to you and put their arm around you and say well done, that kind of thing,” Mengi said about his experience in the first team. “You learn so much from them by just training with them, it’s a big eye opener, it’s been brilliant.”

But, what about this season? How is he going to get more minutes in Solskjaer’s team?

“For me I’m not looking too far ahead. Same old me, I’m just looking to work as hard as I can. You look at the next game and then the one after that. I’m not looking too far ahead in the future – if the opportunity comes, it comes,” he said. “If it happens, it happens. It’s down to me to keep working hard and if that opportunity comes then I need to take it.”

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