Jose Mourinho reveals youngster Axel Tuanzebe is close to first-team debut

Jose Mourinho reveals youngster Axel Tuanzebe is close to first-team debut

Manchester United boss is ready to hand the 19-year-old centre-back his first appearance for the Reds' senior team in the coming months

Sam Ludbrook

Axel Tuanzebe has been training with the United’s first-team at their AON Training Complex and Reds boss Jose Mourinho is prepared to use the youngster in the upcoming fixtures following the departures of Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay.

Stepping up

The Bunia born defender is held in high regard by Mourinho, with the 54-year-old praising him in the summer as well as appearing against Wigan Athletic in a pre-season friendly in July, and Tuanzebe also travelled on the club's pre-season tour to China.  

United are approaching a busy period in the season with six matches in February as the Europa League returns plus a potential date at Wembley against Southampton in the EFL Cup final, so the teenager may be called upon.

Speaking to MUTV, Mourinho said, "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. 

Captain Axel

He admitted Tuanzebe has been promoted to train with the senior players in order “to give him more experience, to make the first team more natural for him”, in case he is needed to play in the upcoming matches as United continue to compete in four competitions.

Mourinho also believes the step up will lead to the defender being “more adapted to us”, and training with the likes of Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling will enhance his learning and knowledge of the game.

Tuanzebe is the captain of the Reds' reserve side, where he has consistently impressed under Nicky Butt this campaign, he is also a winner of the respected Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award at United.