After never seeing the star play, the late Man Utd deal gives Ten Hag a big decision.

Man United have confirmed a deadline-breakingdeal has been completed, leaving Erik ten Hag with a decision to make about a player he’s never seen play.

On deadline day, it was a tense final few hours at Old Trafford, with Christian Eriksen ankle injury prompting a last-ditch move into the market.

Eriksen has been ruled out for three months, with Erik ten Hag ultimately turning to Bayern Munich’s Marcel Sabitzer.

While the attention was focused on Sabitzer, a potential exit was quietly bubbling away in the background.

Centre-half Axel Tuanzebe has been a member of United’s roster since 2006. The 25-year-old has been plagued by injury recently, and combined with a string of loan spells, he hasn’t played for the club’s first-team since the 2020/21 season.

When Leicester City signed Harry Souttar from Stoke City, the Potters immediately set their sights on a loan deal for Tuanzebe.

The deal sheets were submitted before the English 11pm deadline, but the move was not officially confirmed until 12:45am.

Tuanzebe will join Stoke on a six-month loan, according to Manchester United’s website. There does not appear to be a buyout clause, which means Tuanzebe will return to Old Trafford at the end of the season.

Given the nature of Tuanzebe’s contract, Ten Hag will be forced to make a difficult decision at that point.

Tuanzebe loan influences Ten Hag decision
His current contract with Manchester United expires in the summer, but the club has the option to extend it for another year. Man United confirmed this when Tuanzebe signed a loan deal with Aston Villa in 2021.

Ten Hag is known to have urged the club to be stricter with player contracts. Indeed, the Telegraph previously reported that he believes players have been given contracts they did not earn under previous regimes.

Tuanzebe has yet to play a competitive minute of football under Ten Hag. 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 because he has now joined Stoke on loan.

If he chooses to activate the additional year, it stands to reason that United would try to sell Tuanzebe and earn a small transfer fee.

Tuanzebe’s alternative would be to leave for nothing.

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