With Marcus Rojo and Luke Shaw out with injury, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho decided to rest his star right-back Antonio Valencia for Sunday’s game against Arsenal and brought on the Congolese youngster Axel Tuanzebe in his place. He soon proved to be United’s best performer in the 2-0 loss at Emirates as he kept Alexis Sanchez in check.
Born in the Republic of Congo, Axel joined the United Academy at the age of 8. Rising through the ranks, he was given the captain’s armband for the U-18 side in 2015. The first first-year scholar to do so since Gary Neville. His debuted for the first team on January 29 2017, as he replaced Fosu Mensah in the 68th minute in the FA Cup fourth round. His performance led Jose to remark, “10 minutes is enough! The potential is there, you see it immediately.” He has also represented England in the U-19 and U-20 squads.
— MUSC_Oman (@musc_om) May 8, 2017
Brain over Brawn
His vision of the game is on point and his pace and athleticism will keep up with the fastest strikers from Europe. He gave Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez a tough time in Sunday’s game marking him throughout the game and not giving him an opportunity to get past the defender. His vision is so good, that he doesn’t have to put in a lot of tackles. As Paulo Maldini rightly said, “If I have to make a tackle then I have already made a mistake”.
Given the task at hand, and a big one that too, to keep Alexis Sanchez in check, Tuanzebe completed it expertly. With 42 passes made, and 4 out of 5 successful tackles while committing only one foul, he did his job well. This is what he had to say after the match, “The manager gave me one task, to stay with him [Sanchez] and I seem to have done quite well but again we didn’t win so it doesn’t count as much.”
The premier league certainly looks forward to this young talent. With one start in the bag, it may not be long before he’s a regular.