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The extraordinary reason that Manchester United’s Axel Tuanzebe snubbed staying at Aston Villa this season

The extraordinary reason that Manchester United’s Axel Tuanzebe snubbed staying at Aston Villa this season

Axel Tuanzebe joins Napoli mid-season

Manchester United and England youth player Axel Tuanzebe has joined Napoli on loan for the remainder of the season.

The 24-year-old centre back was on loan at Aston Villa for the first half of the Premier League season, but had made just 11 appearances for the Villains, and played just 8 minutes across the last 10 games for the Midlands outfit.

And as a result, a change of scenery was needed, with Napoli paying a 600k loan fee to ensure that the Englishman swapped Birmingham for Southern Italy.

But was there another reason?

Rivalries playing a part?

Now, as per Rob Dawson of ESPN, there is another more tribal reason that Tuanzebe swapped clubs.

He reveals that, according to Tuanzebe’s brother and agent, the move only came because they were worried new manager Steven Gerrard was avoiding picking him due to his Manchester United links.

Gerrard, of course, is a Liverpool legend, and the clubs have a long-standing rivalry in the north-west of England, something that could be affecting his team selection.

Dimirti Tuanzebe revealed:

“following the arrival of Steven Gerrard at Villa Park, it felt as if the rivalry between Man United and Liverpool came to life.”

And while he could perhaps be accused of having a bias, the counterpoint would of course be that Villa are in the process of wrapping up a deal for Lucas Digne, who plays for Liverpool’s arch-rivals Everton.

The two don’t seem to align.

Read more:

Aston Villa edge closer to defender move amid January overhaul

Video: Liverpool’s Sadio Mane nets winner for Senegal in opening group tie


This article was edited by Josh Barker.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City 22 41 56
2 Liverpool FC 21 37 45
3 Chelsea FC 23 28 44
4 West Ham United 22 11 37
5 Arsenal FC 20 8 35
6 Tottenham Hotspur 18 3 33
7 Manchester United 20 3 32
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 20 2 31
9 Brighton & Hove Albion 21 0 29
10 Leicester City 18 -2 25
11 Crystal Palace 21 -1 24
12 Southampton FC 21 -8 24
13 Aston Villa 20 -5 23
14 Brentford FC 21 -9 23
15 Leeds United 20 -15 22
16 Everton FC 19 -10 19
17 Watford FC 19 -14 14
18 Norwich City 21 -35 13
19 Newcastle United 20 -23 12
20 Burnley FC 17 -11 11

Premier League 21/22

Topscorers
Disciplinary
Assists
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 16
Jota, Diogo Liverpool FC 10
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City 9
Antonio, Michail West Ham United 8
Dennis, Emmanuel Watford FC 8
Ronaldo, Cristiano Manchester United 8
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur 8
Smith-Rowe, Emile Arsenal FC 8
Raphinha Leeds United 8
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 8
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United 7
Mount, Mason Chelsea FC 7
Gallagher, Conor Crystal Palace 7
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City 7
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion 7
Silva, Bernardo Manchester City 7
Bowen, Jarrod West Ham United 6
Mahrez, Riyad Manchester City 6
Saka, Bukayo Arsenal FC 6
Maddison, James Leicester City 6