Man United’s Axel Tuanzebe loaned to Napoli to end Aston Villa spell

Man United defender Axel Tuanzebe, is set to join Napoli on loan, putting to an end his spell at Aston Villa.

Tuanzebe, 24, was due to spend the season at Villa in his third loan spell at the club but he has been redirected to Serie A, where Napoli will pay a €500,000 fee to loan him until the end of the 2021-22 season.

The deal is likely to be a loan until the end of the season, with Napoli not having the option to make the move permanent.

Tuanzebe has started only six Premier League games for Villa this season and was left out of their squad for Sunday’s game at Brentford.

Steven Gerrard, the Villa manager, said: “The Axel situation – there is a lot of noise in the media whether he will be moving forward. We will know that in the next couple of days.”

Tuanzebe – who has 18 months remaining on his United contract – joined Villa in August and was expected to remain at the club until the end of the 2021/22 campaign.

However, since Gerrard replaced Dean Smith in November, Tuanzebe has played just eight minutes of football for Villa, with Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings being the manager’s preferred centre-back partnership.

But despite Tuanzebe’s lack of game time, Gerrard said earlier this week that he wanted to keep the 24-year-old at Villa Park.

“It’s very much in Ax’s hands and Manchester United’s hands,” the former Liverpool captain said. “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 and 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.”

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The former England U21 player spent last season at his parent club, making 18 appearances, but returned last summer to the club for whom he played during two separate spells in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. He has played just six times this season, and Dean Smith, the manager who brought him back to Villa, has since been replaced by Steven Gerrard.

The Napoli loan, with paperwork completed, does not include an option to buy the player. Tuanzebe is set to undergo a medical.

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