Manchester United have certainly improved defensively when compared to last year and that is mainly down to the recruitment drive of last summer.
2018 World Cup winner Raphael Varane has been partnered with 2022 champion Lisandro Martinez while Casemiro has added to the defensive solidity.
But the drop-off in terms of quality when Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire are on the pitch is easily discernible and no wonder Erik ten Hag is open to recruiting a new defender.
United need to clear deadwood
But before moving on to new defenders, the Dutchman needs to reevaluate the futures of a few defenders who are still languishing at the club.
One of them is Axel Tuanzebe, whose last appearance for the first-team came in the devastating Europa League final loss at the hands of Villareal.
Since then, disappointing loan spells at Aston Villa and Napoli have followed before injury robbed him of the chance to be a part of Ten Hag’s pre-season squad.
After regaining fitness, the Red Devils decided to send him on loan to Championship side Stoke City and the defender has made four appearances across all competitions for the Potters.
The Reds often protect the value of their players by inserting an additional year clause in their contracts and the same was done for Tuanzebe and according to Football Insider, United are considering triggering the same.
“Man United loanee Axel Tuanzebe will land a £20,000-a-week pay rise if the club trigger the option to extend his contract by 12 months
“Intriguingly, should this be triggered, the defender’s salary will automatically rise to £62,000-a-week, a huge club of £20,000-a-week,” the report mentioned.
United planning to protect Axel’s value
The 20-time English league champions are hoping that the academy graduate can impress in the Championship from now until the end of the season and in the process attract bidders which will be better than losing him for free at the end of the season.
But with the likes of Phil Jones, Brandon Williams, Eric Bailly and Alex Telles still to be moved on, this does not seem to be such a prudent move as this will only add to the already bloated wage bill.
Tuanzebe is valued at €6m according to Transfermarkt and there is very little chance any club will agree to pay such a fee for an injury-prone player.
Injuries have robbed the former Ole Gunnar Solskjaer favourite of the chance to become a mainstay of the United defence and at this point, he should try and impress as much as possible in order to move to a club where he will play regularly. His United dream is all but over.
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