Axel Tuanzebe loan could spark Ralf Rangnick into Manchester United defensive reshuffle – Omar Garrick

Now we’ve approached the beginning of January; it feels like we’re on the cusp of Manchester United being linked with so many moves in the winter transfer window.

Whether it’s incomings or outgoings, United are set to be active in the market, and if they’re to try and achieve the minimum target of a top-four finish, they’re going to have to be very smart in their approach.

Ralf Rangnick has already discussed the window when asked about it but has remained coy on any potential candidates coming into the club;

He said to Sky Sports News: “[It’s] too early now.

“The current squad is big enough, with a lot of competition in the squad.

“To speak about future players coming into the club doesn’t make sense at this stage when we have to find out which player is in which position, the best possible solution for every game.

“Right now for me, it doesn’t make sense to think about future players. My full focus is on the current squad and to find for each game the best possible formation and line-up.”

While Rangnick appears to be giving nothing away regarding any incomings, it looks like United have already been active in trying to secure loan moves for their current players.

This one is slightly different because the player involved was already on loan at another Premier League club but hadn’t gotten much game time.

That person is Axel Tuanzebe. The MEN reported that the defender looks set to secure a loan move to the Italian side, Napoli, who currently sit third in Serie A. United have executed the switch through intermediaries they have previously used to transfer players to Italian clubs.

Tuanzebe originally moved to Villa in the summer transfer window after having a successful loan spell in Birmingham during their promotion campaign in the 2018/19 season.

However, he hasn’t featured as regularly as he once did in the claret and blue shirt, which has perhaps sparked his reasoning to move to a more defensive-centred league in Serie A.

This move has only positives because of the progression defenders have had when playing in the Italian league.

Italy has always had a reputation for being sturdy, defensive and robust in all of their competitions, and it feels like Tuanzebe could take his game to another level, should he get game time and stay fit.

Fikayo Tomori of AC Milan in action during a AC Milan training session at Milanello on December 30, 2021 in Cairate, Italy.
Tomori is a great example of young defenders who’ve done well in Serie A (Photo by Claudio Villa/AC Milan via Getty Images)

As we’ve seen from young defenders that have moved to Serie A, they’ve taken their games to another level. Fikayo Tomori of AC Milan is now rated as one of the best young defenders in the game; Matthijs de Ligt has also done well since moving from Ajax to Juventus. They’ve all had valuable experience, and should Tuanzebe get that, then who knows what he could become.

At 24, Tuanzebe is still young, and United supporters have already seen what he could become. Remember his performance against PSG in the 2020/21 season? He was sensational and had Kylian Mbappe in his back pocket!

His age and the fact he’s joining a team that currently sits third in Serie A mean he has a lot to fight for. Should he be successful, it feels like he could be the perfect Ralf Rangnick defender and even spark him into a defensive reshuffle.

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Whether the German stays or goes at the end of the season remains to be seen, but even if a new manager came in, I think they’d all take notice of Tuanzebe if he performs well.

It’s an exciting move and one which has come at the right time for him.

What do you think of Tuanzebe’s move? Follow our United On My Mind writer Omar Garrick on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.

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