Aston Villa has been relegated to the Championship and decided that they were not going to offer new contracts for some of their players. One was Axel Tuanzebe, who left Aston Villa due to Steven Gerrard arriving.
Axel Tuanzebe left Aston Villa due to the arrival of Steven Gerrard. The 21-year-old has signed for Liverpool and will be a teammate of the former England captain. Read more in detail here: gerrard.
9:00 a.m. ET
Dawson, Rob Correspondent
After quitting Aston Villa on fears that Steven Gerrard’s past at Liverpool was damaging his prospects of obtaining first-team football at Villa Park, Axel Tuanzebe is trying to help Napoli win the Serie A title for the first time in more than 30 years, according to his agent Dimitri Tuanzebe.
Tuanzebe joined Villa on loan from Manchester United in the summer, but his loan was cut short in January to enable him to join Napoli for the remainder of the season.
Tuanzebe was limited to only eight minutes of play after Gerrard’s hiring in November, causing his brother and agent Dimitri to arrange a transfer to Italy.
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There were concerns that Gerrard’s decision to overlook Tuanzebe was influenced by Liverpool’s traditional rivalry with United, but the 24-year-old is glad to have been granted a new start at Napoli.
“Axel is really eager to start a new chapter in his football career, playing overseas for a club with so much history and people that respect football,” Millennial Sports Management’s Dimirti told ESPN.
“Axel didn’t decide to go until it became evident that he wasn’t the manager’s first-choice centre-back, and the offer from Napoli was quite enticing.”
“When it comes to Axel’s time at Villa, I have a lot of mixed feelings. He is well-liked by the supporters since he played a vital role in Villa’s promotion to the Premier League from the Championship, where he was one of the main players.
“However, it seemed as though the rivalry between Man United and Liverpool sprang to life with Steven Gerrard’s arrival at Villa Park.”
On the weekend, Axel Tuanzebe had a victorious debut for Napoli. Franco Romano/NurPhoto photo via Getty Images
“For the avoidance of doubt, Axel was extremely interested in remaining at Villa; he likes the supporters and living in Birmingham, but he also has a career that he can only develop and achieve his full potential in an atmosphere where possibilities to play are equal.”
Tuanzebe is still highly regarded at United, where he has a contract that runs through 2023, with a one-year extension option.
In a 2-1 Champions League triumph against Paris Saint-Germain in October 2020, the Old Trafford academy graduate demonstrated his abilities by keeping both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar quiet, and Dimitri has lauded the club’s handling of his choice to leave Villa for Italy.
“It was a really simple maneuver,” Dimitri continued. “Man United was extremely supportive of the transfer, making sure it was in Axel’s best interests, and Napoli did all they could to make the transaction happen.” As Axel’s agent, I worked with trustworthy partners in the UK and Italy to ensure that the transaction went through.
“Manchester United contacted me personally to inform me about Napoli’s interest; I added them to the list of teams interested, and then evaluated all of my alternatives with the support of my family, trusted associates, and Axel.”
“We all agreed that Napoli is the best choice after many discussions with sports directors and managers from interested teams.
“Axel was convinced by the obvious road into the squad, as well as a success story of players who have enjoyed playing time since signing for Napoli following a lack of opportunity at their former clubs,” says the statement.
Tuanzebe made his Napoli debut only hours after his transfer was official, going on as a substitute in Sunday’s 1-0 victory against Sampdoria.
Luciano Spalletti’s team are currently in third place in Serie A, six points behind champions Inter Milan, and are looking for their first title since 1990. In February, there’s a mouth-watering Europa League encounter with Barcelona to look forward to.
“Napoli is in a wonderful situation in Serie A; the championship is within reach, and they’re also in the Europa League, where anything can happen,” Dimitri remarked.
“When the manager calls on Axel, he will do his job. Barcelona is a prominent European team with a strong offensive power. Axel just wants to play football and demonstrate his abilities, particularly against one of Europe’s heavyweights.”
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