Manchester United asked a lot of Axel Tuanzebe for him to make his first appearance of the year away at PSG.
Tuanzebe stepped up with Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly out injured, and he did not put a foot wrong.
The 22-year-old centre-back had been missing with various injuries for most of the past 12 months.
His return was impeccably timed, and perfectly executed, going up against world class attackers Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
Tuanzebe handled the challenge put in front of him very well, and impressed manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Solskjaer told the club’s official website: “To see Axel play as he has done – I think his last game was maybe Colchester – it’s an unbelievable performance by him.
“He’s only trained for a couple of weeks and he’s absolutely spot on.
“Axel’s a tremendous defender, a great leader. He’s come through the academy and we’ve known for years that he’s going to be a top player for us and he’s got the character and the attitude that a Man United player should have.”
Solskjaer is a big believer in Tuanzebe. He made him the club’s youngest captain since 1985 last season in a Carabao Cup game.
His development has been delayed, but not stunted. Tuanzebe was calm, and looks physically stronger.
The youngster comes into the side at the perfect moment, with United looking for defensive answers.
Tuanzebe has the speed which could make him United’s best complimentary partner to Harry Maguire.
Or he could end up keeping the United captain out of the team.
This has given Solskjaer a lot to consider, all positive. If Tuanzebe didn’t play well, then it would have been understandable, on his first game back against quality opponents.
Instead he handled it well, and has shown he is a top quality option which United can trust.
This performance is the standard which Tuanzebe will be held to from this moment forward. It was probably his best for the club in his career to date.
Axel Tuanzebe’s injury woe
- Injured in warm up vs Liverpool in October 2019
Tuanzebe had been set to start his first Premier League game for United before picking up a hip injury. He did not return to action until December.
- Limps off in cup tie vs Colchester
Tuanzebe was making his first start since returning, in a Carabao Cup tie in late December. He was substituted after an hour after picking up a hamstring injury which kept him out until the end of February.
- After making a return for the under-23s in March, football went into lockdown.
Tuanzebe then suffered a foot injury in training at the start of June which required an operation and had kept him on the sidelines since.
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