Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has finally found the centre-back he should have bought in the summer, because Axel Tuanzebe is ready to fill in at the back after his display against Paris Saint-Germain. That’s according to former United striker Dimitar Berbatov.
Tuanzebe had a Champions League debut to remember on Tuesday night, as he put in a terrific performance against PSG.
The young defender, who played as one of three centre-backs due to the absence of Harry Maguire, was tasked with keeping Kylian Mbappe quiet throughout the game.
He dealt with the pacy winger well, and shoved him to the ground with apparent ease to win the ball in one of the more memorable moments of the game.
United have been crying out for a change at the back this season, with Maguire facing criticism for his performances so far.
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The Red Devils were urged by fans and pundits alike to bring in a new centre-back during the summer transfer window, and Solskjaer was reportedly determined to sign one this summer.
However, they opted against it, and instead focused their attention further up the pitch, bringing in multiple new attackers.
But according to Berbatov, Tuanzebe can fill the void now, and can solve the club’s transfer problem for free.
Speaking in his Betfair column, he explained that the young defender is a strong candidate to be Solskjaer’s first-choice centre-back from now on.
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Berbatov wrote: “I thought Alex Tuanzebe was excellent in defence, for his age he showed so much maturity and strength.
“He didn’t look intimidated or afraid of the huge names he had to defend, and a game like this will give him confidence.
“He has made the case for himself that he should play more.
“It’s only one game but he appears to have all the qualities of a great defender – speed and strength, along with a cool head.
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“I said in pre-season that United needed a centre back, but maybe all along Alex has been there, and he is a strong candidate to be first choice.”
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Chelsea, Solskjaer challenged Tuanzebe to add consistency to his game.
He said: “It was a great performance by a kid who’s not played for 10 months.
“We’re delighted for him because he is such a professional character. He wants everything, he works really hard, he’s been really thorough in his rehab and I am very pleased for him.
“Now to get consistency in his performances he’s got to stay injury-free, we have to manage that.
“That’s mine and his job and the physio staff’s job, of course, but I think he can kick on.
“He’s such a leader, he can play right-back, centre-back, central midfield, many positions.
“He’s a boy who takes responsibility for his own development and I’m sure he’s doing everything he can have to have a long career at United so hopefully we can get that consistency.”
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