Noel Whelan has offered his thoughts on Aston Villa’s reported interest in Axel Tuanzebe…
The former Premier League forward has urged Villa to go through with a deal to sign the Manchester United centre-back, who he feels would be a “brilliant signing” and add to their depth at the back.
Villa are reportedly interested in bringing the defender back to the club following his loan spell with Dean Smith’s side in the 2018/19 promotion campaign, and Whelan told Football Insider: “When you look at the strength in depth of centre-back, I don’t think they have enough.
“It depends if they’re going to go for a three and he goes straight into that. Maybe that is the thinking behind it. The fact he’s worked with him before, good background at Manchester United good age as well.
“You need to put pressure on two defenders there don’t really have a great deal of pressure behind them. You’ve got to start covering bases. If one of those picks up an injury or suspension, you need somebody that in there that’s going to handle the pressure.
“He covers bases in two positions for Dean Smith. I think he’d be a brilliant signing. Really young, up and coming, promising and covers two bases.”
Johan Lange must sanction a swoop for Tuanzebe as Dean Smith is in need of reinforcements in that area of the pitch. Villa have just three senior centre-back options in their squad and one of them – Kortney Hause – only played seven times in the Premier League last season.
This suggests that they are lacking depth beyond their first-choice options, and that could become an issue if they pick up injuries or suspensions. As Whelan explained, there is little for Smith to choose from outside of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa, which means that they do not have any great pressure on their position in the team and can play without much fear of being dropped.
Therefore, bringing in a defender like Tuanzebe who could seriously challenge the pair could do wonders for Smith’s squad as it keeps everyone on their toes. During his loan spell at Villa Park in 2018/19, the £38k-per-week powerhouse averaged a solid WhoScored rating of 6.75 across 28 appearances, showing that he already knows how to perform to a high standard within the 50-year-old’s system.
If Mings and Konsa know that they have Tuanzebe knocking on the door to start, it could motivate them to give that extra 10% in training and in matches to make sure they are fully concentrated and do not make any silly mistakes. Even if they do drop their standards, the 23-year-old could come into the side and provide a reliable option for Smith to call upon, which is why Lange must seal this deal before the end of the window.