It has been a very busy period in the young career of defender Teden Mengi over the last months with him having been sent out on loan by Manchester United to Derby County in the winter window.
The 18-year-old was brought into the club by Wayne Rooney who would doubtless have used some of his Old Trafford connections to convince the Red Devils that the Rams would be the right place to serve his development. Mengi had to wait his chance in terms of being handed regular starts for Derby, but over the last month in particular he has been able to show his qualities.
The defender was initially used at right-back by Rooney, but he has now decided to play him in his more natural centre-back role which he did for the first time from the start in the 4-0 defeat away at Cardiff City. For some players, that kind of defeat would have been enough for them to be discarded from the starting line-up, but Rooney has maintained faith in him.
Mengi has started recent games against Barnsley, Millwall and Stoke City and also came off the bench to help the Rams transform the game against Brentford in the second half and hold the Bees to a 2-2 draw. The defender has been able to win 3.9 duels, as well as make 2.3 clearances and 1.1 interceptions per game so far in his seven Championship appearances (Sofascore).
The issue that Mengi will now face is making sure that he stays in the side and is able to keep performing to a consistent standard. That will not be easy with the Rams not in the best of form at the moment in the Championship and with Rooney still searching for the right sort of setup in terms of starting 11 and also formation.
The 18-year-old will obviously make a few mistakes between now and the end of the campaign, which is natural for such a young defender. It will be all about how well he can recover from those instances when they occour. Rooney seems to have a lot of faith in his abilities so you would not expect him to be dropped if he were to make one or two errors.
As for what’s next, in the immediate future, Mengi will need to concentrate on continuing his development and keeping his place in the side at Derby for the rest of the campaign. Then it will be a case of seeing what Manchester United want to do with him in the summer and whether they believe it will be beneficial for him to go out on loan again for a full campaign.
The Red Devils feel that he can have a major future at Old Trafford with them only recently having given him a new contract. Loan spells like the one he is on at the moment with the Rams will play a pivotal role in whether he is able to live out that full contract as an important member of United’s squad.