Manchester United fans were quick to heap praise on Axel Tuanzebe for what was a composed debut during their side’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in the Premier League.
The 19-year-old, four months on from making his first appearance in the senior side, received his first Premier League start at the Emirates as Jose Mourinho rested key players ahead of Thursday’s clash with Celta Vigo.
It was a disappointing day for Man United but Tuanzebe can hold his head well and truly high in light of what was a confident, dynamic display at right back.
Supporters rushed to dish praise out for the 19-year-old during the game.
Tuanzebe's been better than both Jones and Smalling. #ARSMUN
— Ræhan (@RehanTCh) May 7, 2017
One Tuanzebe > Smalling and Jones.
— Chuanzhi (@tohchuanzhi) May 7, 2017
Tuanzebe has played well to be fair
— Connor Inman (@Inmanc_) May 7, 2017
Axel Tuanzebe doesn't deserve to be on the end of this. He has been top so far. You'd think it was Smalling/Jones 1st game not his. #arsmun
— Sam Johnson (@Samunitedfan) May 7, 2017
For those that don’t know, right-back is not Tuanzebe’s natural position. And yet there he was, the most composed defender in that United side, playing out from the back and keeping tabs on Alexis Sanchez whilst Chris Smalling and Phil Jones – two supposedly senior members of the squad there to help the youngster through the game – flapped and meandered their way through the game.
This was a debut that Tuanzebe, after several months of lurking around the first team, richly deserved, and it will act as an important blueprint for his pursuit of further opportunities under Mourinho over the next few weeks, with the Portuguese likely to place complete emphasis on the Europa League from now on.