Speaking to the club’s official website, Manchester United academy product Axel Tuanzebe has delivered an exciting verdict on what he hopes to bring to the table when he makes his comeback from injury.
Tuanzebe returned to the club last summer after a season-long loan spell at fellow Premier League side Aston Villa, but has seen his campaign disrupted by injury, making a total of just ten appearances.
However, after travelling with United’s squad on their winter break to Spain, the centre-back appears to be closing in on his return, with the club website revealing he could re-join the group later this week. And when asked what he is hoping to contribute individually to the rest of the season for the Red Devils, Tuanzebe gave an impressive answer.
He said: “A lot of things, but just to help the team grow really. I think we are a very young side, so just being a leader constantly, whether it be vocally or by example, and just help us to develop and grow as a team and obviously improve myself in the process.”
Whilst Harry Maguire will surely be a permanent fixture in United’s rearguard for the years to come thanks to his price tag, there may well be an opening for a place alongside him. Currently, Sweden international Victor Lindelof is occupying the second centre-back role, making 30 appearances across all competitions this season.
But with a fairly disappointing average match rating of 6.63 as per Whoscored, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may be open to seeing someone else stake their claim for that spot. And that is where Tuanzebe’s comments are particularly encouraging.
Despite Maguire being the club captain now following Ashley Young’s departure to Inter, United could do with more leaders on the pitch. Think back to some of the best Red Devils teams of the past, and they always appeared to have multiple leaders at the same time – the likes of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand et al.
As someone who has come through the academy, Tuanzebe could be an inspirational figure to the rest of United’s promising prospects who are fighting for their places in the first-team. Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams, amongst others, will no doubt look up to the 22-year-old, and that could bring the best out of them too. Solskjaer will surely be delighted with what the centre-back has had to say about what he can add to the team.