Manchester United are understood to be close to selling fringe defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah to Bayer Leverkusen, six months before he is due to become a free agent.
United triggered an option in Fosu-Mensah’s contract to prevent him from leaving on a free transfer last summer, but his deal is finally up this coming June and he must be sold before the end of the January transfer window in order to bring in any sort of fee.
The Old Trafford club had offered the versatile Dutchman a new contract at the end of December, more likely in an effort to preserve his value in the market rather than an indication of a future role in the squad. But Fosu-Mensah rejected the deal, accelerating his departure.
Now, the Manchester Evening News reports that the player is close to an agreement with Bayer Leverkusen that would see the German club pay a relatively nominal £1.5m transfer fee.
It is said that Fosu-Mensah’s personal preference is a return to former club Ajax, where he played in the academy ranks between the ages of eight and 16 until moving to Manchester in 2014. But the 23-year-old has accepted that is an unlikely scenario, despite interest from Amsterdam.
Capable of playing at right-back, centre-back and in midfield, Fosu-Mensah was handed a senior United debut at 18 by Louis van Gaal in 2016.
He offered plenty of promise and had played 21 times for the club by the time he was loaned out to Crystal Palace in 2017 in the hope of aiding his development by getting regular starts.
It was a hit and miss season at Selhurst Park that saw him dropped out of favour more than once, while a follow up campaign on loan at Fulham was wrecked by a long-term knee injury.
After recovering from his injury Fosu-Mensah made his first United appearance in more than three years when he started against Palace in the Premier League during ‘Project Restart’. He played in each of the final three league games of the season and was also utilised in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley and twice during the delayed conclusion to the Europa League campaign.
Fosu-Mensah even started United’s Premier League opener this season in place of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was unavailable following a summer trip to Dubai, but his only further appearances since then have been as a substitute in Champions League defeats.
United are generally keen to continue stripping deadwood from the squad. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed last week that the club expects Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo to each find a new team, while Phil Jones and Jesse Lingard remain linked with moves away.