Axel Tuanzebe left Manchester United on loan in the summer in pursuit of regular first team football.
Even with the injuries to Raphael Varane, Tuanzebe would have struggled for game time at Old Trafford, where he is fifth choice.
His move to Aston Villa was always risky, as he went in as third choice, trying to break up an already established partnership of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa.
Injuries did indeed give Tuanzebe opportunities, with being third choice far better than being fifth, and providing him with a chance to stake his claim for a regular spot.
Then something happened Tuanzebe would have been hoping would not. Manager Dean Smith was fired after a run of successive defeats.
Smith was manager of Villa during Tuanzebe’s previous loan spell at the club in which he helped them win promotion in 2018/19.
Steven Gerrard then took over, leaving Tuanzebe in an unknown situation of whether a managerial change would be a good or bad thing for him.
So far, not so good
Gerrard’s appointment at Villa has not worked out well for Tuanzebe so far.
The former Rangers boss has been in charge for three games, and left Tuanzebe as an unused substitute in all three.
Objectively, its understandable why he would select Mings and Konsa, who played well together last season. And Villa won their first two matches under Gerrard, 2-0 against Brighton and 2-1 against Southampton, so why change a winning team?
Last night was Gerrard’s first Villa defeat, with Manchester City beating them 2-1. Tuanzebe was an unused substitute again.
Now it is possible an opportunity for Tuanzebe could open up if Villa decide to change things up after the loss. He has to believe that during the busy festive period, he will get a chance to show what he can do, and may be even win over his manager.
Villa should be keen to further explore what he is capable of. A permanent deal for Tuanzebe is very viable if they want him. The centre-back recently turned 24 and looks increasingly unlikely to be able to force his way into United’s team in the near future. It is time to move on.
What happens between now and January could change Tuanzebe’s season, one way or another.
If Gerrard just does not rate him, and Tuanzebe does not get a chance, then he won’t be happy to sit on the bench. The Telegraph reported he had an opportunity to move to Newcastle in the summer. It’s possible they could show interest if he became available for loan again.
At the moment Tuanzebe’s season risks passing him by. He has started six of a possible 14 games, with no starts since November 5. If he can’t change the situation, then he may have to change club.
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