Manchester United captain Harry Maguire's comments from 2021 suggest the club have lost a dressing room leader after Axel Tuanzebe headed to Stoke City on transfer deadline day. The English defender has joined the EFL Championship side on loan till the end of the season.
However, his contract with United is set to expire in June, and there's a feeling he could be allowed to leave permanently. Tuanzebe, 25, has become a forgotten man at Old Trafford. He has endured an injury-ridden season, not making a single appearance.
The defender may lack game time, but Maguire lauded Tuanzebe's character in 2021, claiming the Englishman to be an influence in the Manchester United dressing room (via the Mirror):
"We have a lot of leaders in the dressing room, a lot of senior pros. And you don’t have to be a senior pro to be a leader. Axel is a leader, in the ways that he works and speaks in the dressing room."
“And he’s only a young boy; he’s still learning his trade. I’m sure he’ll go on to have an unbelievable career."
Tuanzebe has struggled for first-team opportunities after rising through the ranks. He has made just 37 appearances since debuting in 2016. The centre-back has spent loan spells at Aston Villa (2021-22) and Napoli (January-June 2022).
The defender's chances of breaking into the Red Devils' first team have been slim, with the competition for places in the backline being intense. Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez have been the United manager's preferred defensive partnership. Meanwhile, Maguire and Victor Lindelof have been backup options, with left-back Luke Shaw also used as a makeshift centre-back.
Manchester United's Jadon Sancho tipped to be unleashed in Carabao Cup clash with Nottingham Forest
Sancho has been out of the Manchester United first team before the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The English winger underwent individual training to work on his confidence and requirements of Ten Hag's playing style.
He's now back with the Red Devils squad and part of the group that face Forest in the Carabao Cup semifinal second leg tonight (February 1). British journalist Pete O'Rourke thinks this could be the perfect opportunity for Sancho to be let loose (via GIVEMESPORT):
“Jadon Sancho will be hoping that he can do enough to impress Erik ten Hag because he will find it hard to break into a Manchester United team that is doing so well right now."
“This semifinal against Forest, with United in a comfortable position, is an ideal opportunity to give some fringe players a chance for some first-team minutes.”
Sancho has struggled since moving to United from Borussia Dortmund in 2021 for £73 million. He has lacked form, scoring just three goals in 14 games across competitions this season. The Red Devils are already 3-0 up on aggregate against Forest, so Ten Hag may rotate his squad.