Why Axel Tuanzebe is set to become Chris Smalling’s replacement
A report from BBC states that Chris Smalling has Manchester United for Serie A giants AS Roma. Smalling has been at the club for 9 seasons now and he’s won quite a lot of silverware – including two Premier League titles, a Europa League Cup, an FA Cup and a League Cup.
Smalling is one of the senior players in a very young squad but he’s clearly not in the plans of the manager. He has been a bit of a middle-man after deputizing for the likes of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand in his early years. However, he is not good enough to carry that defence on his own.
His best spell came under Louis Van Gaal, where Daley Blind was tasked with the build-up play but he hasn’t really claimed a starting spot since. He similarly did better when partnered with Victor Lindelof but with Harry Maguire’s arrival, he was clearly surplus to requirements.
A replacement is necessary and United have one in Axel Tuanzebe. The Englishman was on loan at Aston Villa last season and was very impressive as he helped the club get promoted to the Premier League.
Tuanzebe is a very strong and quick defender. His best asset is his ability to defend 1 on 1. He’s also got many other strong attributes like his ability to build an attack from the back because of his passing range and his ability to drive into the midfield.
Victor Lindelof will be looking over his shoulder as Tuanzebe has the raw attributes to become a better defender over time but he still requires a lot of experience to make that step up to the first-team.
Tuanzebe was captain of the United youth sides. At 21, he is expected to become the third-choice centre-back ahead of the likes of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo.
This a clear indication that Tuanzebe will feature a lot this season and is the future of this very young United side.