April 23, 2021

Man Utd

News

Manchester United can emulate this season’s surprise transfer masterstroke

4 min read

If a dire week of goalless draws tested the patience of Manchester United fans, it is safe to say they have been rewarded in style.

As far as weekends go they don’t get much better than the one which just passed.

United’s emphatic derby win over Man City came just hours after Liverpool lost at home, again, while fierce rivals Leeds also lost, again, this time against a West Ham side inspired by loanee Jesse Lingard.

The 28-year-old’s masterclass at the London Stadium was the latest in a string of fine rejuvenated appearances ever since he moved to West Ham in the January transfer window.

Four goals and two assists in six appearances, only Bruno Fernandes has had more direct goal involvements in the Premier League since his move was completed.

Such a loan deal can only represent good news for United. Sure, Lingard might not have a future at Old Trafford, but he’s still a shining success of their famed academy and certain for deserved transfer in the summer window.

With such a turnaround in fortunes it is clear to see why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would want to repeat such a masterstroke – even if he was so reluctant to let Lingard go in the first place.

This summer United will look to send more first-team fringe players on loan and none are perhaps better suited to such an exit than fan favourite Axel Tuanzebe.

It has been a difficult spell for Tuanzebe, 23, since he returned to United after a successful loan-spell with Aston Villa two years ago.

Injury has severely hampered his progression, while irregular playing time has done little to establish confidence and consistency required to excel at Old Trafford.



Axel Tuanzebe produced a flawless performance against Paris Saint-Germain
Axel Tuanzebe produced a flawless performance against Paris Saint-Germain

Since that return from loan Tuanzebe has never started more than three matches in a row for United, but even in glimpses there have been signs of exceptional talent which is still yet to be properly refined.

Sure, his recent struggles against Sheffield United and Everton received an almighty amount of coverage, yet it would be hugely unfair to critique such performances without also throwing into the equation is unbelievable display away against Paris Saint-Germain all the way back in October.

It was after Jose Mourinho’s first game in charge of United, a 2-0 pre-season win over Wigan back in 2016, that the Tuanzebe hype really began with an 8 minute cameo.

“With Axel, ten minutes is enough! The potential is there, you see it immediately,” the former United manager exclaimed. “You know him better than me because you know him for a few years but if anyone sees him for the first time, ten minutes is enough to see the potential.”

Yet half a decade on and the question mark still remains next to his name. Is Tuanzebe really the future of United, or is he simply another academy success not quite ready for the first-team leap?

Again he might want to look towards Lingard for inspiration. It was at the same age Tuanzebe is now when he finally made his breakthrough under Louis van Gaal, following Championship loan-spells with Leicester, Birmingham, Brighton and Derby.

That time away from the club played a key role in his development as a player and ensured Lingard arrived on the first-team scene with plenty of meaningful minutes under his belt despite his tender age.

Part of the issue for Tuanzebe has been his hugely unfortunate injury record, but he has done enough in the United first-team to justify a Premier League side taking him on loan at the end of the season.



Manager Jose Mourinho congratulates Axel Tuanzebe after the pre-season friendly match between Wigan Athletic and Manchester United

Another move to Aston Villa perhaps makes the most sense, although their recent defensive stability might suggest that he’d be occupying a back-up role, something of little interest to either player or United.

With the club keen on a new defensive addition this summer it is clear Tuanzebe will need to consider his options if he is to ever fulfil his obvious potential.

The England youth international is now at the same age Lindelof and Bailly were when they both arrived at the club, but still he has never really pushed on from the raw talent which saw him shine so brightly at reserve level.

A loan move away might not be part of his long-term plan to Old Trafford stardom, yet as Lingard showcased before, it could prove to be the making of him.

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