Some football fans may not know who Axel Tuanzebe is, but the young starlet has been widely tipped to become Manchester United’s next breakthrough star.
The progress he has been making in the youth setup hasn’t gone unnoticed by first-team manager Louis van Gaal, who has already called Tuanzebe up for selection in United’s senior squad.
This article introduces the hugely talented youngster who is undoubtedly destined for greatness.
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Who is Axel Tuanzebe?
Tuanzebe is an 18-year-old central defender who officially joined Manchester United in July 2013.
The main features of his game are his robustness, immense physical strength and relaxed nature when in possession of the ball. Tuanzebe’s ball-playing skills have led to people making comparisons between him and former Red Devil Rio Ferdinand.
However, Tuanzebe’s most impressive attribute is his leadership qualities. As captain of the Under-18 team he has proven to be a natural leader, both on and off the pitch, and good enough to not let the extra responsibility adversely affect his performances.
Tuanzebe was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but he also has dual British nationality. He grew up in Rochdale; a town in Greater Manchester, and was identified at the tender age of eight by United’s Academy as a special talent.
Since 2005, he has been nurtured by the youth coaches at the club and the teenager has grown in stature year on year. In 2009, the local lad was given the Sports Boy of the Year award by the Mayor of Rochdale and he was a member of United’s Milk Cup winning squads both in 2013 and 2014.
Tuanzebe’s recent impressive displays were rewarded when he won the 2015 Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award – an award also won by the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.
Tracking his progress
All of United’s youth coaches like his strong personality and feel that he is currently ahead of schedule in his development as a footballer. This was highlighted in 2014-15 when he was pushed into United’s Under-21 side and made three appearances for them in their title-winning campaign.
However, Tuanzebe spent the vast majority of last season in the Under-18s, starting 28 matches in a solid season for the team managed by Paul McGuinness. He really emerged as a genuine leader, proved that he could handle the extra responsibility of captaincy and expressed his satisfaction at having the full respect of his teammates.
The future looks bright
Last month, former Man United midfielder and current Under-19 manager Nicky Butt said that he has high hopes for Tuanzebe and believes that he is more than capable of succeeding at the highest level.
Recently, he has started to catch the eye of Van Gaal and he was named on the bench for United’s goalless draw at Crystal Palace in the Premier League in October.
Tuanzabe himself absolutely loves football and wants nothing more than to play for the Old Trafford club, he has even expressed the desire to one day succeed Wayne Rooney as captain.