Jose Mourinho has noted that any loan move for Axel Tuanzebe in January will be contingent on the progress made by the injured Eric Bailly, insisting he would wait until deadline day to decide.
The 20-year-old, who broke into the first team last season, has only made one start under Mourinho this term – against Swansea City in the League Cup.
Reports on Friday claimed that Tuanzebe was set to join Championship side Aston Villa until the end of the season.
But Mourinho, speaking at a press conference, emphasised that he was reluctant to let Tuanzebe leave amid fears of a lack of personnel at the back during the latter stages of the campaign.
“Tuanzebe’s a very good player that is not having lots of possibilities to play here,” he said. “But he’s our player and will be our player, no chance we give up on such a talented boy.”
“But it is something we are thinking about, a loan until the end of the season. We are a bit afraid of injuries, a bit afraid of needing him, we have Eric Bailly injured, we are not free of other injuries, so we are delaying the decision and we are going to delay until the end of the transfer window.
“If we have a decision at the end of the month and feel Eric Bailly is close to being back, then probably will be good for Axel to go on a loan and be back next season, because he’s a player we like very much.”
Tuanzebe played a small yet crucial role towards the end of Mourinho’s opening season at Old Trafford. With players dropping like flies with injury and the 54-year-old desperate to preserve the legs of Ander Herrera, Antonio Valencia and Paul Pogba ahead of the Europa League final, the youngster stepped in and produced calculated displays in games against Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Crystal Palace.
He was a steady pair of hands and looked settled on the pitch wherever he was asked to play, providing his boss with the luxury of resting key players – something that bore fruit in Stockholm as Man United produced an energetic, organised display against Ajax.