Axel Tuanzebe left Manchester United on loan in the summer to pursue regular football elsewhere.
After he made only four starts for United in the Premier League last season, and then United signed Raphael Varane, it was the sensible decision.
Tuanzebe has already made two starts for Aston Villa during his loan spell and speculation is starting up that he intends to make the move permanent.
The Sun report Tuanzebe is feeling settled at Villa and would be happy to commit to a long-term future at Villa Park.
A chance for United to cash in
United have found it tough to raise money from sales in the past, often because the club grow too attached to academy players and tie them to long contracts, see Andreas Pereira as a case in point.
Chelsea have a more ruthless approach and managed to net large sums from player sales this summer, including Tammy Abraham to Roma for a large fee.
United need to be a little ruthless too, and accept that Tuanzebe is not going to dislodge Harry Maguire or Raphael Varane, and will likely be stuck behind Victor Lindelof too.
If Tuanzebe wants to leave, United should not stand in his way, and try to recoup a fee of around £20 million if possible.
Who will be United’s fourth choice centre-back in 2022/23?
Eric Bailly is United’s fourth choice centre-back, and he is unlikely to stay content with that situation for too long.
It won’t be a surprise to see Bailly look to leave next summer, and United should not put up a fight if a decent bid comes in.
As discussed, Tuanzebe will unlikely be content with such a role, especially if he is playing regularly for Villa this role. However well he does at Villa, he won’t dislodge Maguire or Varane.
So this creates an interesting situation for United. Who will take on the spot vacated by Tuanzebe and Bailly? Phil Jones is also likely to be released at last, too.
In an ideal situation, Teden Mengi would step up. But he may simply not be ready. The past year has seen him put in mixed performances for the under-23s, and his Championship loan was also varied. Mengi may be a couple of seasons away.
Di’Shon Bernard is making good progress at Hull. But like Mengi, whether he is ready for United, or will ever be, is another matter.
So United may have to take another different step, to look to the transfer market.
This would mean signing a developmental centre-back in the 21 to 24 age range, who has first team experience, and who could both slot in at United well, and appreciate the challenge.
Tuanzebe might fit that profile, but his time may be up. He wants more, and United can’t offer it to him. Whatever the price gained for Tuanzebe, with some smart scouting, United could sign a similarly talented prospect for an equal price.
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