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Manchester United: Axel Tuanzebe must be ditched

Manchester United have become somewhat notorious for failing to move players on, with the Old Trafford outfit either unwilling or unable to axe the peripheral figures from their squad.

Long-serving Englishman, Phil Jones is no doubt the best example of that having now spent 11 seasons at the club since joining Blackburn Rovers in 2011, despite making just 24 Premier League appearances since the start of the 2018/19 season.

The 30-year-old’s fellow defender Axel Tuanzebe is another who remains on the Red Devils’ books despite having never managed to secure a regular role in the side since making his debut back in January 2017.

The once-promising centre-back – who was awarded the club’s famed Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award in 2015 – has gone on to make just 37 appearances in all competitions since that first team bow over five years ago, with the 24-year-old having now been at the club since the age of eight.

As pundit Kevin Campbell suggested last year, it is seemingly “no use” to anyone for the DR Congo-born colossus to be languishing on the periphery at the Theatre of Dreams, with it something of a headscratcher as to why he was not moved on in the summer window.

With current boss Erik ten Hag already boasting quality depth in his defensive ranks in the form of Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, there is seemingly little need for Tuanzebe to stick around, particularly with more young talent emerging from the academy set-up, including 17-year-old Tyler Fredricson.

Any chance of the former England U21 international staking his claim under the new manager in pre-season was halted as he was forced to return home from the club’s tour due to a ‘personal issue’, with that potentially unfortunate scenario ensuring that his chance of a resurgence at the club may well have already come and gone.

Should Axel Tuanzebe be moved on?

No

No

Yes, he had his chance

Yes, he had his chance

The £6.3m-rated man had also done himself little favours last term after struggling to impress in loan stints at Aston Villa and Napoli, notably making just two appearances after joining the latter club in January.

One rare outing against Fiorentina saw the 6 foot 1 man come under fire from journalist Umberto Chiariell, who stated: “If this match was to be used to see Tuanzebe, we must say he is not yet ready for the Italian championship, he has yet to learn how to defend in Italy. He made mistakes that a defender should never make, on Vlahovic’s goal he missed every defensive move.

“He is a footballer who must learn, if he has not managed to break through up to this moment there will be some reason, even for the same Koulibaly the first year in Italy was a total apprenticeship. So Tuanzebe not rejected, but postponed.”

Such a dismal campaign potentially explains why he had proven so hard to shift in the recent window, while his reported £50k-per-week salary may also have put off potential suitors, with United once again paying for their seemingly unruly wage bill.

While there are likely those at the club – as well as supporters – clinging on to the bright showing that Tuanzebe had against Kylian Mbappe in the Champions League two seasons ago, it would appear that he simply needs to be moved on sooner rather than later.

Indeed, the defender is now a long way from the days when he was thought to be the new Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic by club chiefs at the Theatre of Dreams.

Thankfully for all parties, there is just under a year remaining on his existing deal at the club, with the central defender – barring a late Jones-esque contract extension – likely to be moved on having drained the club of almost £8.1m over the past few years with regards to his wage, as per FBref.

In truth, on the evidence of his limited game time, the academy graduate has simply been stealing a living and must be given the boot in January.

Article title: Manchester United: Axel Tuanzebe must be ditched

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