Why Leeds United should take a punt on Man United’s Axel Tuanzebe
According to claims from The Athletic journalist Phil Hay, Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa is looking to add another centre-back to his ranks before the summer deadline and Manchester United starlet Axel Tuanzebe is one of the names on the club’s shortlist.
The 22-year-old made only 10 senior appearances for the Red Devils last season, partly due to injuries, meaning United could sanction a loan deal or even a permanent exit for their academy graduate. (h/t Birmingham Live)
Axel Tuanzebe rose through the youth ranks of Man United and made his professional debut during the 2016-17 season after impressing for the U-23s. He joined Aston Villa on loan in January 2018 but injuries restricted him to just five league appearances in the Championship.
The 22-year-old returned to Villa Park for a second successive loan spell in the summer of 2018 and went on to play a key role as the Midlands outfit secured promotion to the Premier League via the playoffs. Aston Villa wanted to sign him permanently last summer following his promotion heroics but United refused to cash in on him. (h/t Birmingham Live)
Despite featuring regularly for United in the pre-season fixtures last summer, Tuanzebe managed only 10 appearances over the course of an injury-stricken 2019-20 campaign, with his last outing coming way back in December.
The highly-rated central defender has represented England at the U-21 level, although he remains eligible to switch his allegiance to DR Congo – the country of his birth.
Leeds could benefit from Tuanzebe’s potential
Leeds United have caught the eye with their aesthetic attacking football in the opening stages of the Premier League campaign, scoring 8 goals in the opening three games. However, the Whites have looked somewhat vulnerable at the back, conceding 7 goals in the process.
The West Yorkshire giants roped in Robin Koch from Freiburg earlier in the summer to partner Liam Cooper but they still lack adequate cover at the heart of the defence. Pascal Struijk and Kalvin Phillips are capable of filling in at times, but it wouldn’t be a wise decision to rely on makeshift options in the Premier League.
Leeds have signed Spanish international defender Diego Llorente from Real Sociedad. Despite the 27-year-old’s arrival at Elland Road, the Whites would still have enough room to add a fourth centre-back to their squad.
To put things into perspective, Axel Tuanzebe ticks plenty of boxes as a useful addition to Leeds’ backline. The 22-year-old has struggled to establish himself as a regular fixture at Man United but his talent and potential can hardly be called into question.
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From what we have seen of Axel Tuanzebe so far, he’s more than capable of doing a job at the highest level if provided with regular game time. The England U-21 international still has his best years ahead of him and Leeds United could have a gem on their hands if Bielsa manages to get the best out of him.
Having said that, Tuanzebe’s arrival at Elland Road would go a long way towards adding more cover and quality at the back for the Whites.