Axel Tuanzebe taking big strides towards Manchester United’s first team

by Sam Peoples

Marcus Rashford is the latest academy graduate to burst into Manchester United’s first-team but Axel Tuanzebe might be following him very soon.

The 18-year-old was included by Louis van Gaal in Man United’s match day squad away to Crystal Palace last year and since then Tuanzebe has continued to progress at a rapid pace.

He’s now United’s U21s captain, having also captained the U18s, is playing for England’s U20s, has trained with United’s first-team under Jose Mourinho and also played in the pre-season as well. So, he’s taking great strides towards his ultimate goal of playing for United.

For our U21s this season he’s been a rock at the heart of defence, just like he was for our U18s, and he’s a natural born leader – a characteristic which not every player has. Warren Joyce took a chance by giving Tuanzebe the armband but believe his decision to do that has been completely justified this season.

“I think Axel really epitomises the traits we’ve had from all our captains,” Joyce explained.

“We could have had one of the older ones as captain who might then possibly go out on loan, so it’s better to have one who’s staying in the group. Axel’s only young and the captaincy puts demands on him. But it’s helped develop him as a person as well.”

And if you remember, Mourinho raved about his performance when speaking about Tuanzebe after United’s 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic which kick started our pre-season.

He said: “You can play 90 minutes or one minute. Sometimes one minute is enough.

“With Axel, ten minutes is enough! The potential is there, you see it immediately.

“You know him better than me because you know him for a few years but if anyone sees him for the first time, ten minutes is enough to see the potential.”

Tuanzebe has been so consistent for United’s youth teams that it’s no surprise to see the progress he’s continuing to make and remember he’s still just 18, yet he’s captained two teams and is showing no signs of crumbling under the pressure. He’s very similar to Rashford in that respect – big occasions don’t seem to overawe him.

Of all the talents now coming through the academy, Tuanzebe is one I feel is knocking on the door of the first-team and don’t be surprised to see him make an appearance or two this season. If he does, it will be fantastic.

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