Napoli open talks with Manchester United for Axel Tuanzebe

Napoli are targeting a move for Manchester United centre-back Axel Tuanzebe.

The English defender is currently on loan at Aston Villa but has not been a regular in the starting XI since Steven Gerrard’s appointment. He would’ve hoped for more game time, which I think he would have achieved under Dean Smith had he not been fired earlier this season.

However, Gerrard wants Tuanzebe to stay at Villa despite not playing him very often.

“It’s very much in Ax’s hands and Manchester United’s hands,” the Villa boss told reporters, as per the Manchester Evening News. “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.”

Gerrard also hinted that Tuanzebe could be recalled by United, saying: “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.”

Now it seems Napoli are looking for cover after losing Kostas Manolas to Olympiakos and Kalidou Koulibaly is expected to compete in the AFCON.

Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano gave the following update via Twitter: “Napoli are in contact with Manchester United through intermediaries to discuss potential loan fee and buy option for Axel Tuanzebe. The centre back is appreciated but price tag will be key to proceed in negotiations.”

So, it doesn’t look like Tuanzebe has a future at United, where he has captained teams at all levels, including first team.

Aston Villa won’t have any say in the matter since they hardly give Tuanzebe the minutes he warrants on the pitch, but there is nothing more annoying that sending a promising player to a club who decide to switch managers months later.

Italian outlet Tuttomercatoweb claims the next 48 hours are crucial:

“What is missing, at the moment, is an agreement on the amount that Napoli must pay to United for the defender’s transfer, otherwise the operation seems already very well underway. So for Tuanzebe, 24, the next 48 hours will be decisive for his future in Italy.”

Chris Smalling is the last centre-back United sold to an Italian club and he’s done very well in Serie A.

Hopefully Tuanzebe enjoys the peak of his career playing at a high level because he deserves it for all his hard work in the academy.

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