Tuanzebe to leave United at end of contract

Friday 16 June 2023 12:32

Axel Tuanzebe will say farewell to Manchester United this summer, upon the expiry of his current contract.

The defender has been a Red since he joined the Academy at the age of eight, and has captained the club at every level, eventually finishing up with 37 senior appearances between 2017 and 2021.
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, before moving to Rochdale as a young boy, he quickly established himself as a powerful, skilful and an authoritative leader at Carrington, winning the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award in 2014/15 and then scooping the Denzil Haroun Reserve-Team Player of the Year prize in 2016/17.
That latter season also brought his competitive debut for the first team, when he came on as a substitute during a 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

United announce official retained list


The club explains the current status of the squad during the close season.

His career ignited during the second of two loan spells with then-Championship club Aston Villa, as he helped the Midlanders to promotion during the 2018/19 campaign.

He was a near ever-present for manager Dean Smith, and played the entirety of the play-off final victory over Derby County that sealed the Villa Park club's Premier League status.
The following season he returned to M16, and was memorably selected to captain the side in a Carabao Cup tie against Rochdale.
Mike Phelan, then assistant manager to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, delivered the news to Tuanzebe – still only 21 years old – shortly before the game.
“Dreams do come true,” he admitted to club media post-match. “I had goosebumps as I was walking out. It is something I have been working on for a long time and the moment finally came. I am just grateful to the manager and grateful to the club and the players I am playing with for sharing this moment with me.
“It was a nice surprise. I was literally getting ready to stretch and loosen up and Mike Phelan just came to me and said: ‘Are you ready to go and see the referee?’
“I said ‘What do you mean?’ and he said, 'Come on, you are captain.' So I said: ‘Alright, let’s get it.’”
Tuanzebe memorably donned the captain's armband against Rochdale in 2019.
Axel made 10 appearances across 2019/20, but injury kept him out of action after another Carabao Cup tie against Colchester United in December. A long 10 months out preceded his return, but his next appearance was arguably the highpoint of his United career.
Tuanzebe was named in the starting XI when we travelled to the Parc des Princes to take on Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, and was one of our star performers in a superb 2-1 win, sealed late on by Marcus Rashford's bullet strike.
Axel lined up on the right side of a three-man central defence, alongside Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw. He beat Kylian Mbappe in a foot race, twice, and also helped the collective to keep the likes of Neymar and Angel Di Maria at bay.
“You’ve just got to give them the respect they deserve,” he explained to me, shortly after. ”But you know, you’re not here to play second fiddle; you’re here to compete. And no matter who you come up against, you have the same attitude. So for us, it was: we’re going out here to win and to make a statement.”
Axel and Aaron’s school of defending Video

Axel and Aaron’s school of defending

Tasked with stopping one of the world’s best in Kylian Mbappe? No problem for Axel Tuanzebe and Aaron Wan-Bissaka…

Despite signing a new contract at the end of that season, in which he made a United-best 19 appearances, he would compete in no further first-team games after the 2021 Europa League final in Gdansk, where he converted a successful penalty in our agonising shootout defeat to Villarreal.
Another loan followed at Aston Villa in 2021/22, before he moved on to Napoli and Serie A in January, 2022. A temporary switch to Stoke City followed during the last transfer window, after regaining fitness.
His departure is an emotional one for the player and many at the club who have known and helped nurture him over the years. A fine character, he leaves United universally respected as a credit to himself and his family.
Everyone at the club would like to extend our best wishes to Axel as he embarks upon the next chapter of his career. We would also like to thank him for always representing Manchester United with class and dignity.