Why Axel Tuanzebe would benefit from another season out on loan

Over the last few seasons, the name Axel Tuanzebe has rolled off the tongue of many Manchester United fans, with great excitement and enthusiasm. Originally born in Bunia in the Republic of the Congo, before growing up in Rochdale, Tuanzebe has been with the club’s Academy from the age of eight.

The talented defender showed great potential from an early age picking up the 2015 Jimmy Murphy Young Player of Year award and captaining the U19s as a first-year scholar. Which in turn earned him a place in the U21s at the ripe age of 17, and despite having an injury-hit campaign went on to make 11 appearances for Warren Joyce’s title-winning side.

It was not long before Tuanzebe would be rewarded with a call-up to the first team and was singled out for praise by Jose Mourinho in the summer of 2016 when he first arrived at the club. With the academy graduate given a great opportunity to show the new boss would he could do first hand, in a pre-season friendly against Wigan Athletic, with Mourinho full of praise afterwards.

Following on from this Tuanzebe went on to captain the reserves, showing great leadership on and off the field and earned himself more opportunities with the first team. Getting selected as part of the travelling squad to face Hull City, in the second leg of EFL Cup semi-final. Before making his first team debut just a few days later on the 29th January 2017, in the Emirates FA Cup fourth round against Wigan Athletic. Replacing fellow academy graduate Timothy Fosu-Mensah in the 68th minute and putting in an assured performance as United secured a 4-0 victory.

With United’s team stretched due to their involvement in the Europa League, Tuanzebe’s services were required and the young defender made four appearances in the Premier League towards the end of last season, including starting big games against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

Tuanzebe made just three appearances for United in the season just past, starting and playing the full 90 minutes against Swansea City in the carabao cup and coming off the bench in the UEFA Champions League against CSKA Moscow and making a brief cameo away at Everton in the Premier League. Before being loaned out to championship side Aston Villa in January.

Under Steve Bruce, the young defender made five appearances with much of his spell at Villa being disrupted by injury. In the 300 minutes Tuanzebe got under his built at Villa, he managed an average of 3.2 tackles, 0.4 interceptions and 3.8 clearances, which are impressive defensive statistics for a 20-year-old.

While Tuanzebe has only managed 13 competitive first team appearances in his two seasons of first team football, the United academy graduate will have gained some great footballing knowledge and had some invaluable experiences in both training with United’s first team, and while on loan at Steve Bruce’s Villa.

Yet while Tuanzebe has the skill and mentally to succeed as a future United star, it is vital that he seeks another loan move in order to get more first team football. Doing so would be of great benefit to the young defender in his development as has been proved in the past by the likes of Jesse Lingard and Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

While playing predominantly at Centre back, Tuanzebe can play in a number of different positions and has been used at left-back, right-back and in defensive midfield for both United and Villa. So, the 20-year-old with great versatility and bags of talent will not be short of potential suitors and it has been reported that several Premier League and Championship clubs are interested in taking him on loan next season.

There has also been much speculation in the media that Aston Villa are keen to keep Tuanzebe on loan for a further season and this speculation has been fuelled even more recently by the departure of Villa’s captain John Terry.  If this where to be true then it would not be a bad thing for Tuanzebe’s development. After all, Steve Bruce is an untied legend and knows what it likes to be a defender at the highest level, so would be a great influence on Tuanzebe in his development.

Regardless of where Tuanzebe ends up next season, it’s clear he has the talent and the mindset to become a future United star and more first team football will do nothing but help him on his journey to the top of the great game.

Written by Jamie Mackinlay

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