With Manchester United’s defence in disarray, there are growing fears that the club could recall Axel Tuanzebe in January. The Red Devils aren’t short on centre-backs (Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo), but they have been low on quality and Tuanzebe’s been in fine form since joining Aston Villa on loan over the summer.
The 21-year-old has made 21 appearances in all competitions for Villa, making 23 tackles, 17 interceptions, 80 clearances, 49 passes-per-game (83% completion) and 63 aerial duels won. Tuanzebe has been a regular alongside James Chester at the heart of the defence this season and could have a bright future from what he’s shown at Villa Park.
With only Southampton (32), Burnley (33), Cardiff City (33) and Fulham (42) having conceded more goals than United (29) in the Premier League, a new centre-back might be key in January. While former United manager Jose Mourinho wanted Toby Alderweireld from Tottenham or Harry Maguire from Leicester City, Tuanzebe might be a decent short-term option until the end of the season.
Villa wouldn’t want to lose such an important player from their first-team, however, so Dean Smith would surely fight tooth and nail to keep the 21-year-old at the club next month.