Jose Mourinho’s mistrust of young players is well-publicised and Scott McTominay is the only academy graduate who has really established himself in the Manchester United squad during his reign.
That has meant that despite United’s defensive woes and desperation for new blood, hot prospects Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe have been repeatedly farmed out on loan.
Tuanzebe’s loan spell with Aston Villa last season was unremarkable but under Dean Smith this time around, he has been performing impressively of late.
Can he be the answer?
Obviously Tuanzebe alone won’t solve United’s central defensive issues and it is a big jump up from the Championship to the Champions League.
But United have persisted for too long with central defenders who will simply never be good enough; Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo.
Tuanzebe’s potential ability is greater than all three of the aforementioned trio and surely it is worth persisting with somebody who might get to United standard rather than three players who are just stopgaps.
Will it happen?
Mourinho has been vocal in his praise of Tuanzebe in the past, but that has not manifested itself in many first-team opportunities.
By the time Tuanzebe returns to United at the start of next season, perhaps Mourinho will have been replaced by another manager, who puts a greater emphasis on youth development.
If Tuanzebe is at the club and is given a fair crack of the whip, there’s no reason he can’t prove to be a better option than the likes of Smalling, Jones and Rojo.