A robust central defender, Axel Tuanzebe is a natural leader and captained the Under-18 team as a first-year scholar.
Born in Bunia, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he has been nurtured by the club's Academy since the age of eight after growing up in Rochdale and has long been tipped for the top.
Tuanzebe is an imposing figure who is comfortable in possession despite his obvious brawn. The 2015 winner of the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award was pushed into the Under-21s ahead of schedule after making three substitute appearances at that level in 2014/15.
Adapting superbly to life at the higher level, he nailed down a regular place and even made the substitutes' bench for the first team's 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace on 31 October at the tender age of 17. Unfortunately, injury halted his progress but he returned in time to help seal the Under-21 title.
He trained with the first-team squad ahead of the pre-season friendly against Wigan Athletic in July 2016, with Jose Mourinho taking the opportunity to have a look at the promising centre-back, who earned praise from the boss after appearing in that game.
Tuanzebe captained the Reserves to good effect, showing his leadership qualities again, and his outstanding form in 2016/17 culminated in him being named the Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year.
He earned a place in the travelling squad for the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final against Hull City, before making his competitive first-team bow in the Emirates FA Cup victory over Wigan in January 2017 and then his maiden senior start in May’s Premier League trip to Arsenal.
The talented defender signed a new contract to run until 2020, with the option of a further year, soon after his debut. He spent the second half of the 2017/18 season on loan at Aston Villa, however made few appearances due to injury.