Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand felt injuries cost Luton defender Mengi his chance at Old Trafford
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The 21-year-old had joined his boyhood club as a six-year-old, progressing through the youth ranks to captain the U18s side and earn England honours from U15-U20 level, as once penning a first professional contract in September 2019, he played three times for the U21s in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Mengi then made his senior debut in August 2020, coming on in a Europa League match against LASK, but didn’t feature again for the rest of the 2020-21 campaign.
The following term, the centre half played another three times for the U21s, then going on loan to Derby County in February 2021, but returned to Old Trafford early after suffering an injury.
During the 2021-22 season, Mengi had three more Checkatrade Trophy appearances and then came on for the Red Devils in their 1-1 draw with Young Boys in the Champions League.
Another loan spell saw him head to Birmingham City in January, but a hamstring problem at St Andrew’s restricted him to just 10 outings, with a similar issue restricting him to just two games last year as he spent the majority of the time sidelined.
With United bringing in the experienced Jonny Evans this season to provide competition for the likes of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, it meant that Mengi opted to leave on a permanent basis this time, in search of regular first team football.
He joined Luton in August and since moving to Kenilworth Road, has begun to prove his fitness, starting six of Town’s last seven Premier League matches, making eight appearances in total.
Asked on FIVE's YouTube Channel if he thought Mengi could have been a back-up for Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag this term, Ferdinand, who made 455 appearances for United during his 12 years with the club, said: “He's never been fit though, always had injuries.
"It’s difficult, you've always spoken highly of him.
“Potential and ability-wise, it was never in question at Manchester United, it was just the ability to stay fit, he couldn’t.
“So that’s why he never got his chance, or why he never managed to stay and break through.
"With injuries, you are only as good as how many times you can get out on the pitch.”
Speaking ahead of the game, Mengi had explained his reasons for leaving Manchester and joining Luton to Sky Sports News, saying: “I called United home for a very very long time.
“They've been family for a very long time but I've moved on to take a different route in my career, try and get to where I want to get in my career and that was the decision to come to Luton.
“It’s just a different challenge that I didn't think I was getting at United.
"A chance to play in the first team, to showcase what I can do, what I know that I'm capable of doing.
“No disrespect to Manchester United but that's just how it works sometimes.
"There's people in your position but after many conversations with the manager (Rob Edwards), we both felt it was the right decision for me to come here.
"Nothing comes for free, you have to work for everything in life, but I feel like I’ve worked for my position in the team.”