The centre-back proved he can mix it with the world’s best as the Red Devils opened their latest European campaign in impressive fashion
Axel Tuanzebe is undroppable after his star turn against Paris Saint-Germain, according to Rio Ferdinand, who says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to “reward performances like that”.
United returned to Parc des Princes for the first time since their famous last-16 comeback against the French champions in 2018-19.
Solskjaer’s side prevailed once again thanks to a Bruno Fernandes penalty and a stunning late strike from Marcus Rashford, marking their return to the Champions League in emphatic style.
An Anthony Martial own goal early in the second half gave PSG hope of a positive result, but the visitors carved out more clear-cut opportunities as Thomas Tuchel’s men struggled to find any cutting edge in the final third.
Tuanzebe put in a man-of-the-match display to keep the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria at bay after being handed his first start in 10 months, and Ferdinand was delighted to see the 22-year-old put his injury woes behind him on the biggest stage.
Asked if the centre-back has made it impossible for Solskjaer to leave him out of a Premier League clash with Chelsea on Saturday, the United legend told BT Sport: “Yes. Ole has just said it’s two of the best two strikers in the world (Mbappe and Neymar), he snuffed out danger many a time today.
“You have to reward performances like that. He’s had a hard time with injuries – first game in 10 months – to come in and play like that, from out of the cold, you deserve to be rewarded.
“But Ole is the man to make that decision.”
Ferdinand added on the role Tuanzebe played in stifling the PSG attack: “This is where Man United have struggled in the last six to 12 months, in them areas chasing players down the channels, they can’t stay with them and then obviously that opens up the back four or back three.
“But he was smelling danger.”
Another former Red Devils star, Owen Hargreaves, echoed his ex-team-mate sentiments after the 2-1 victory while also praising Tuanzebe for his physicality and intelligence in and out of possession.
“Good luck getting this guy out of the team,” said Hargreaves. “This guy… I love him. He’s a good athlete, he makes good decisions, physically he’s got a good presence, he wasn’t fazed by Mbappe or Neymar.
“I think he grew into the occasion. We saw a couple of years ago Scott McTominay came here and put in a top performance.
“This young man… he’s not getting out of the side.”