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25th Jan 2017

Jose Mourinho drops name of academy player who could be set for full Manchester United debut

Huge opportunity on the way.

Darragh Murphy

Axel Tuanzebe – remember the name.

The Manchester United youngster’s first team breakthrough is growing ever closer if manager Jose Mourinho’s recent comments are anything to go by.

With the end of the January transfer window drawing nearer, Mourinho is running out of time to bring in a mid-season signing, but he doesn’t sound all that concerned with rushing into deals for replacements for either Morgan Schneiderlin or Memphis Depay.

The pair left Manchester United last week after finding themselves reduced to mere squad roles under Mourinho, and the Portuguese is more than happy to promote players from within the Red Devils ranks rather than look elsewhere.

Mourinho has singled out Tuanzebe, the 19-year-old defender who can also play in midfield, as the man who could most benefit from the squad places left by the departures of Schneiderlin and Depay.

Tuanzebe was praised by Mourinho for his performance against Wigan in a 2-0 summer victory for United in Mourinho’s first friendly game in charge of the club.

And, six months later, Mourinho continues to have faith in the youngster who one would expect to see in the first team sooner rather than later.

“He can,” Mourinho told MUTV when asked whether Tuanzebe could make the step-up soon. “We lost Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay, two players who didn’t play many minutes or many matches for us. They were two players from the squad, so we need numbers and probably Axel is one of the boys that’s in the Academy who is more close to playing with us.

“So we have brought him up to give him more experience, to make the first team more natural for him in case we need him to play in the upcoming matches and month, so he can be more adapted to us.”

Given Mourinho’s current plans for academy players, Tuanzebe can consider himself quite fortunate that he’s being discussed in relation to a promotion through the ranks rather than being made a ball-boy, which is something some of his peers can look forward to.