Axel Tuanzebe is set to be converted into a right-back under José Mourinho at Manchester United, after impressing against Arsenal on his full debut for the club.
The 19-year-old was paired up against Alexis Sanchez at right-back for his first career start, but was arguably United’s best performer during the 2-0 defeat, keeping the Chilean under wraps and impressing with his pace and strength.
Tuanzebe, an England under-20 international, has mostly played at centre-back all the way through the United youth ranks, winning the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award in 2014/15 and being nominated for the Reserves Player of the Year this season.
The Congolese-born defender had made his United debut earlier this season against Wigan in the FA Cup, being deployed at right-back for a brief cameo, and Mourinho has hinted that he will be playing him there for the foreseeable future.
Speaking in the post-match press conference (via the Manchester Evening News), the United boss said:
The kid was brilliant. I think first of all he’s a good player, which is important, it doesn’t matter the position he plays. I think globally he’s a good player and he starts by being a good player, by being a good kid, a good professional, a good learner, a humble boy. So first of all he’s a player and that’s the most important thing.
Every minute that he spends training with us is fantastic for him and every minute he plays in the Premier League is a bless. So at this moment I don’t think the position matters.
What matters is to get on the pitch, to get the experience, to play against Alexis Sanchez, to play against Ozil, to play against Welbeck, to play against big players.
His best position by routine, by dynamic, which he brought playing with kids of his age, is central defender. I think playing with the big boys especially in this period of his career, I think right-back.