Leeds: Orta made D-day blunder on Tuanzebe

With deadline day having come and gone, Leeds United can likely reflect on what was a hugely impressive window with regards to incomings, with sporting director Victor Orta having sealed the notable arrivals of Max Wober, Weston McKennie and Georginio Rutter, as well as that of teenage starlet, Diogo Monteiro.

Despite that “terrific” January business however, – in the words of journalist Phil Hay – there may well be a sense that the Whites could have potentially strengthened even further, with the defensive unit arguably one area that still needs addressing.

Although the capture of Wober will help to bolster a backline that has shipped 33 Premier League goals already this season – the fifth-worst record in the division – the departure of Diego Llorente to Roma has left little competition for Robin Koch with regards to natural, right-sided centre-backs.

According to Hay – alongside Mark Carey for The Athletic – Orta and co seemingly had the chance to solve that problem after being offered the option to sign Axel Tuanzebe from bitter rivals Manchester United, albeit with the Yorkshire side ultimately opting against a deadline day swoop.

The 25-year-old – who has just six months remaining on his existing deal at Old Trafford – has subsequently secured a temporary move to Championship side Stoke City until the end of the season, with that drop into the second tier having come amid a frustrating last few years due to a lack of regular game time and injury.

While those recent woes – which saw the former England U21 international fail to feature in the first half of the season – may suggest that the Elland Road outfit dodged a bullet by snubbing the chance of a deal, Tuanzebe’s impressive performances in the past have served to showcase that he could well represent an opportunity missed for Jesse Marsch’s side.

The DR Congo-born titan first burst onto the scene at the Theatre of Dreams during the tail end of the 2016/17 campaign under Jose Mourinho, having notably done an “amazing job” – in the words of the serial-winning coach – to thwart Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez on his top-flight debut.

Should Leeds have signed Tuanzebe?

Not for me!



While chances have been few and far between with the Red Devils since then for the versatile defender – who can feature at full-back, in midfield or at centre-back – the 6 foot 1 brute notably showed his class in a Champions League meeting with Paris Saint-Germain back in October 2020.

That clash at the Parcs des Princes saw the towering defender produce a colossal display up against the electric presence of fleet-footed Frenchman, Kylian Mbappe, having “snuffed out danger” against arguably “two of the best strikers in the world”, as per pundit Rio Ferdinand, in the form of Mbappe and teammate Neymar.

Operating on the right of a back three on the night, Tuanzebe showcased his remarkable recovery speed to keep pace with the World Cup-winning superstar, notably recording seven clearances and winning three of his five duels, while also losing possession on just three occasions.

Can you get 100% on this Leeds World Cup transfer quiz?

Question 1. After starring for England at the 2002 World Cup, how much did Leeds sell Rio Ferdinand to Manchester United for?

The imposing ace also previously impressed during his three loan spells at Aston Villa, having helped the Midlands side to secure promotion in the 2018/19 campaign under Dean Smith after forming a “dominant” defensive partnership with Tyrone Mings, as per journalist Sam Tighe.

While those high points have been followed by notable lows – as the former Villa man featured just twice during his temporary spell at Napoli in the second half of last season – it would appear that Tuanzebe is a player of real quality, with a settled home possibly set to allow him the chance to truly harness that undoubted potential.

The hope will be that both Marsch and Orta will not live to regret failing to sign a potential hidden gem, with it set to be a real blunder if Tuanzebe does go on to blossom in the years to come.

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