Axel Tuanzebe could see some playing time before the end of the season (Picture: Getty)
With Manchester United suffering further injuries in defence against Anderlecht, Jose Mourinho has suggested he could call upon highly-rated young defender Axel Tuanzebe between now and the end of the season.
The Red Devils lost Marcos Rojo in the first half of Thursday night’s win in the Europa League, and though Daley Blind replaced him on the night, he’s not looked ideal as a centre-back during his appearances there this term.
Mourinho has shown with his use of academy graduates Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard that he is a changed man when it comes to trusting youth, which is of course an important part of the job at Old Trafford.
So could United now call upon another of their homegrown crop? Here’s a look at who Tuanzebe is and what he might have to offer…
Who is he?
Tuanzebe made an impression in pre-season (Picture: Getty)
Tuanzebe is a 19-year-old centre-back who’s been with United’s academy since 2013, though his association with the club stretches back to when he was just eight years old.
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the young defender is now an England youth international, having played for the Three Lions at Under-19 and Under-20 level.
Yet to appear in the Premier League for United, Tuanzebe did get onto the bench for the away game against Crystal Palace earlier in the season, and made his United debut against Wigan in the FA Cup in January.
Clearly earmarked as a potential candidate for the first-team before the the start of the season, Tuanzebe was used occasionally by Mourinho in pre-season.
Tuanzebe looks a promising centre-back (Picture: Getty)
What are his strengths?
As well as being a strong, fast and solid defender, Tuanzebe has also been praised for his ability on the ball.
Described as being a mixture of Eric Bailly and Javi Martinez, it’s clear to see why the teenager is rated so highly by all who’ve seen him play.
With Blind lacking the basic physical attributes to shine as a centre-half, the inclusion of Tuanzebe doesn’t look such a big gamble at this moment in time.
What are people saying about him?
Tuanzebe is a regular for England at Under-20 level (Picture: Getty)
After using him for just ten minutes in a pre-season friendly against Wigan, Mourinho commented: ’10 minutes is enough! The potential is there, you see it immediately.’
Former United academy coach Paul McGuinness has also praised his leadership skill, saying: ‘It was the first time I’d picked a first-year scholar as captain. I don’t think that has happened since Gary Neville was youth-team skipper. Axel did a very good job – on and off the field.’
Most recently, Mourinho singled him out as a youngster who could step up into his first-team, commenting: ‘Now we need absolutely everyone. Now I even have to think Axel Tuanzebe goes to the under-something World Cup in Korea because maybe Axel has to come now. Now we need everybody.’