Late Man Utd deal goes through to give Ten Hag big decision after never seeing star play
Man Utd have confirmed a deadline-beating deal has been completed, with Erik ten Hag now faced with a decision over a star he’s never seen play.
It was an anxious final few hours at Old Trafford on deadline day with Christian Eriksen’s ankle injury prompting a last-gasp dip into the market.
Eriksen has been ruled out for around three months, with Bayern Munich’s Marcel Sabitzer the man Erik ten Hag ultimately turned to.
But while Man Utd headlines were hoovered up with Sabitzer, a potential exit was quietly bubbling away in the background.
Centre-half Axel Tuanzebe has been on United’s books dating all the way back to 2006. The 25-year-old has struggled with injury of late and combined with a series of loan spells, hasn’t actually played for the club’s first-team since the 2020/21 campaign.
Once Leicester City signed Harry Souttar from Stoke City, the Potters quickly put a Tuanzebe loan deal in their sights.
The deal sheets were submitted in time before the English 11pm deadline, though it wasn’t until 12:45am before the move was officially confirmed.
Man Utd announced the completed deal via their website, with Tuanzebe joining Stoke on a six-month loan. There doesn’t appear to be an option to buy included, meaning Tuanzebe will return to Old Trafford at season’s end.
At that stage, Ten Hag will be faced with a tough decision given the nature of Tuanzebe’s contract.
READ MORE: Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd among the Premier League 2023 January transfer window winners
Tuanzebe loan tees up Ten Hag decision
His current deal at Man Utd expires in the summer, though the club do have an option to extend it by 12 months. Man Utd confirmed as much when Tuanzebe joined Aston Villa on loan in 2021.
Ten Hag is known to have urged the club to adopt a sterner approach to player contracts. Indeed, it was previously reported by the Telegraph he feels players have been handed deals they didn’t earn under previous regimes.
Tuanzebe hasn’t played a single minute of competitive football under Ten Hag. Given he’s now joined Stoke on loan, Ten Hag will have to make a decision on the extension in the summer without having seen the centre-back play for United’s first-team.
If he chooses to activate the extra year, it stands to reason United would attempt to sell Tuanzebe and thus generate a small transfer fee.
The alternative would see Tuanzebe leave for nothing.
READ MORE: Ferdinand savages Merson over worrying Sabitzer to Man Utd claim, with real reason Bayern stint failed stated