Nicky Butt explains why Axel Tuanzebe is shining at Manchester United

by Leo Nieboer

Head of Academy and former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt has explained why Axel Tuanzebe is shining at Old Trafford this season.

The youngster, who was included in Jose Mourinho’s 25-man tour squad over the summer, has been regularly involved with the first team this season, participating in a number of training sessions at Carrington. 

Tuanzebe received his senior debut during Man United’s 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic, replacing Timothy Fosu-Mensah in the second half, and impressed the watching world with a solid performance at right back.

And Butt, speaking to, insisted that the 19-year-old’s success this season comes down to his trustworthiness and dedication.

“Axel is simply one of those boys you just trust,” he said. “Whatever he does, when he goes on the pitch, when he is in training, when he goes home, when he’s in front of the press… you trust him. He is the perfect example to all our Academy players – as is Marcus Rashford as well.

“They’re the kind of players we want to bring to this club through the Academy. We want them to be with our club for five, 10, 15 years and be the leaders at United and show the next group of youngsters how they should do things.

“It’s amazing really when you think one of the biggest, probably the biggest club in the world, still gives youngsters platforms. It shows that if you’re good enough, you’ll get your chance no matter who the manager brings in.

“Whether it’s a world-record transfer like Paul Pogba or a superstar like Zlatan Ibrahimovic brought in, there is always room for young players at this club if you’re good enough.”

It is clear that Tuanzebe, like many talents before him, possesses a work rate and mindset that stems from years of grafting tirelessly under the likes of Butt and Warren Joyce. United may have lost a sense of identity during the post-Fergie era, but the academy has continued to promote the same style that saw the likes of Danny Welbeck, Wes Brown and even Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes emerge as superb first team talents at a young age.

United fans will hope to see Tuanzebe, who looked right at home during his 22 minute cameo, continue to receive chances to impress over the next few months.

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