2021 must be the year Axel Tuanzebe finally shines for Manchester United

Axel Tuanzebe needs a big 2021. The Manchester United centre-back is no longer a promising youngster. He is 23 and, were it not for a string of injuries, he could have well over 50 appearances for the Red Devils by now.

Instead, bad luck means Tuanzebe’s story is still one of potential rather than fulfillment.

Setback after setback means the defender has been threatening to break through since his teens.

Now he is fit and firing once more. And 2021 needs to be the year he finally becomes a first-team regular.

It is telling that, even when he shone on loan at Aston Villa, Tuanzebe still missed three months with a fractured metatarsal. But that was the year he proved his worth.

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

The centre-back still has more first-team outings for his former loan club than for United. But that could well change in 2021.

Tuanzebe needs to build on an impressive outing against Everton in the League Cup. And there are plenty of matches coming up.

A star in the making

The fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer trusted Tuanzebe away to PSG this season speaks volumes.

The defender played a vital role in a 2-1 victory and he has the innate talent to become one of the best for club and country.

The problem for Tuanzebe is his age. He is fast approaching his mid-twenties and he needs to shake off his injury woes or risk being left behind.

United have other promising centre-backs chomping at the bit. Arguably the best of the bunch is Teden Mengi, and he could well usurp Tuanzebe if the latter is side-lined for any length of time.

With Eric Bailly also hoping to make his mark alongside Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire, 2021 is a big year for Tuanzebe.

It could yet prove to be the biggest of the lot.

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Vincent is the Senior Managing Editor of Freshered. He was previously Head of Sixth Form at a secondary school in Kent, where he worked with hundreds of 16 to 19-year-olds over eight years.