Manchester United starlet Axel Tuanzebe out to prove he has come of age during Aston Villa loan

Already more mature than many his age, Axel Tuanzebe hopes a loan move to Villa will help to prove he is now a man on the pitch.

Axel Tuanzebe in action for his parent club, Manchester United
Axel Tuanzebe in action for his parent club, Manchester United

The club’s latest recruit can speak three languages, while his intelligence and natural leadership skills meant he became the first junior scholar to captain Manchester United’s under-18s since Gary Neville.

But he has arrived at Villa with just eight senior appearances to his name – and though one of those might have been in the Champions League – Tuanzebe knows he still has everything to prove.

“This is my chance to demonstrate what I can do on the pitch,” says the 20-year-old. “If I can break into the team, I can show I am a man, who can play men’s football and do well.

“I want to show the qualities I know I have got, to prove I can do it.”

Tuanzebe is fluent in English, French and Lingala – a regional dialect of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country of his birth and where he lived before moving to the UK with his family at the age of four.

The broad Rochdale accent with which he speaks gives no indication to his background. But Tuanzebe has certainly not forgotten his roots.

“My mum and dad wanted to give us a better opportunity in life. The chance to become someone, to do something with ourselves,” he says.

“I want to give something back to the people I love. We still have family living in the Congo who I would like to help out one day.”

His distinctive first name, he meanwhile reveals, was bestowed by his uncle.

He said: “My parents were going to call me Alex but my uncle liked Axel so they went with that. It’s uncommon. I like it.”

Tuanzebe hopes his name will soon be ringing round Villa Park and, eventually, Old Trafford.

In the short-term, he is relishing the challenge of trying to break into a Villa team which has won four games in a row.

“From the back of last season when I played a few Premier League games, I feel like I am ready for the next stage,” he said.

“It is not like I am a young boy anymore, looking to please. I am here to fight, here to play and help the team win promotion.

“After getting the promotion and my medal, I want to go back to United and be a real contender for my place. I believe it is my home. I want to be playing there for ten to 15 years. That is my motivation.”

In addition to taking part in a promotion battle, Tuanzebe was also attracted by the success enjoyed at Villa by another United loanee, goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.

For a player who sees his best position is centre-back, there is the chance to learn from Villa skipper and five-time Premier League winner John Terry.

“That’s definitely intriguing, having such a legend in the team,” he said.

“If you watch him carefully, he’s never been the quickest. But for some reason he is always in the right position.

“It shouldn’t add up but he is smart, has studied the game, where to be at the right time. Having someone like that to learn off, adding those qualities into my game. It can elevate me.

“I want to sho I am developing. Showing I can be a leader when needed, whatever is required. I want to show that I can play.”

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