According to the Manchester Evening News, Axel Tuanzebe is set for a loan spell away from Manchester United next season. And this really could be now or never for the centre-back.
The defender has been tipped for greatness for years now. Yet a combination of injuries and competition for places means he still has just 37 United games under his belt.
With his 24th birthday approaching, Tuanzebe needs to be a regular starter. And that is where the right loan move comes in.
The United prospect showed his worth during a temporary stint at Aston Villa. But he is yet to kick on and that makes next season vital.
Tuanzebe needs a loan move to a top-flight club where he can play week in, week out. Only then can he prove if he can cut it at United.
Some fans don’t think that is in question. There are those who feel he should already be starting ahead of Victor Lindelof. But United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clearly has other ideas.
Tuanzebe is a class act. Anyone who watched him against Paris Saint-Germain last season knows that. But the question is whether he can perform on an elite level consistently.
A return to Villa – who could be dark horses for a top-six finish next season – may be ideal for the United prospect.
He knows the club, they know him, and he would slot seamlessly into Dean Smith’s back line. But there are other Premier League sides who would also benefit from his presence.
Last chance to impress
It may sound harsh, but Tuanzebe really needs to pull out all the stops next season.
United are not going to wait forever for him to fulfil his potential. There is already talk of new centre-backs in the rumour mill, and Eric Bailly’s contract extension suggests he is staying for the foreseeable future.
Tuanzebe could yet be a Manchester United great. He has all the traits to succeed at the club.
Now he needs to prove it with an entire campaign of top-flight football.