Blow for Villa as Napoli terms are agreed over shock deal for Man Utd star

Axel Tuanzebe in action for Aston Villa during Premier League against Chelsea

Manchester United have accepted a surprise loan approach from Napoli for defender Axel Tuanzebe – who will now have his loan arrangement at Aston Villa terminated in favour of the Serie A side.

The former England Under-21 defender joined Villa over the summer on a loan deal from United. However, the move has not quite gone to plan with Tuanzebe playing just eight minutes of Premier League football since Steven Gerrard’s appointment. Despite that, Gerrard has spoken of his wish to retain the player’s services.

However, according to trusted transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Manchester United have terminated his arrangement with Villa. And they have agreed a deal with the Serie A title chasers to see Tuanzebe move to the Diego Maradona Stadium for a loan fee of €500,000.

The deal does not include the option to make the deal permanent. As such, United still see a future for Tuanzebe at Old Trafford and hope he will enjoy more game time in Italy than he did in Birmingham.

The news will undoubtedly come as a blow for Gerrard, who just on Friday was outlining his hopes of keeping the player.

Axel Tuanzebe exit will hurt Gerrard

Discussing Tuanzebe, he said:  “It’s very much in Ax’s hands and Manchester United’s hands. We want him here, we would be delighted to keep him. We don’t just see it as a loan until the end of the season.

“It’s something we want to explore further than that. We just hope we’ve got that opportunity.

“He’s a player we like very much. We’d like him to stay until the end of the season at least. Axel is his own man and will want to make his own decision.

“He is obviously owned by Manchester United which we all need to respect. I hope he wants to be part of this.

“In terms of what he has given on a daily basis, his leadership and training levels have been really strong and he is pushing to play.”

Aston Villa to give Gerrard funds after £100m summer spend

Steven Gerrard will have his first transfer video with Villa in January and the club have committed funds to him to sign much needed replacements

Gerrard, however, did admit United could well exploit the chance to recall the player in January, which they have now clearly done.

He said: “Most loans, to give you a hint, normally have a recall option. I don’t think it makes sense to loan any player out in this day and age, especially when you are going through a pandemic, to not have a recall option.

“We will see how that one pans out in the short term. We want to keep him.”

Gerrard makes Villa transfer vow

Gerrard will now turn his attention towards strengthening Villa with the window now open.

He is reportedly seeking a new midfielder, while a replacement for Axel Tuanzebe will also be in his thinking.

Discussing the January window, Gerrard added: “The important thing is we’ll only make signings if we feel they’re the right ones for the team. We want them to move us forward and to improve us.

“We won’t make them for the sake of it just to add volume.

“We are looking and assessing certain players for certain positions in the squad. I won’t give too much away because my phone will go on fire and start smoking with agents, which I don’t want.

“Myself, Christian Purslow (chief executive) and Johan Lange (sporting director) have spoken every day in the past week. Even more so because I’ve had a lot of free time because of COVID.

“We’ve had some good, positive meetings and we have identified certain individuals we’d like to bring in.

“If we can make that happen in this window, great. If not, it might be a case of being patient and waiting until the summer.”

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