SIx reasons why Tuanzebe has a bright future
To mark Axel Tuanzebe’s 21st birthday, which he celebrates today, we’ve listed six reasons why supporters can feel excited about the future of the Manchester United prospect…
1: MOURINHO RATES HIM
Since Jose’s very first match in charge of the Reds, a pre-season friendly at Wigan Athletic in July 2016, the manager has spoken positively about the young defender and cited him as an obvious talent. “The potential is there,” he said at the DW Stadium that day. “You can see it immediately!” Mourinho has since taken Tuanzebe on all three of his pre-season tours while in charge of the club, and also sanctioned the signing on a new long-term contract.
As the manager quickly surmised upon his arrival at United, Tuanzebe has an obvious and natural talent that underpins his reputation as a rising star. He is strong in the tackle, composed on the ball and intelligent off it, wielding attributes that are often required from the modern centre-back.
The 21-year-old England international is versatile, too, having played for the first team at right-back and also in central midfield. He has even earned praise for his display on the left side of a back-three, away to Swansea City in 2017.
To cope with the rigours of senior football, especially in the Premier League, a young player must be physically capable and Tuanzebe is certainly that at over six feet in height. But that is not the only string to his bow: he’s also a bright young man who speaks with admirable poise. Seriously, look up one of his MUTV interviews and you’ll see what we mean. Granted, being a good talker has nothing to do with success on the pitch, but it nonetheless represents a level of confidence that is required.
Born in Bunia, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tuanzebe grew up in Rochdale and has been nurtured by the Academy since the age of eight. He has become an excellent leader and captained the Under-18s as a first-year scholar. “I don't think that has happened since Gary Neville was youth-team skipper,” said former coach Paul McGuinness. “Axel did a very good job - on and off the field.”
The robust defender then led the Reserves throughout the 2016/17 season and admitted he enjoys the responsibility of the role. "I like bossing people around!" he recently told us with a smirk.
In May 2015 Axel was named our Jimmy Murphy Under-18s Player of the Year and, two years later, he collected the Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year prize, becoming the third Red in history to claim both youth trophies (after Mark Robins and Giuseppe Rossi).
Speaking about his success, our no.38 outlined his aims for a future that definitely looks bright: “It's my dream to be a leader and role model at this club. The manager has shown faith to play me and I’ve been helped by youngsters like Marcus and Jesse, who’ve taken me under their wing. It’s been good so far and hopefully it can continue. I was to show he can trust me to play in future games.”
6: EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION
Axel agreed a loan move to Aston Villa in October 2017 to link up with United legend Steve Bruce, for whom he made eight appearances before an injury put paid to that temporary spell in April 2018. However, he had already impressed by that point and the Midlands club signed him again last August to assist with their 2018/19 Championship campaign. Since then, despite Bruce's subsequent departure as manager, Tuanzebe has made 16 appearances across all competitions and fans are delighted with his performances at centre-back. His future certainly looks bright and he has spoken openly about returning to United as a more accomplished, well-rounded player.
Happy birthday, Axel Tuanzebe!