Aston Villa will be going into the transfer window with the view to strengthen their side after a slow start to their season with Steven Gerrard replacing Dean Smith in November in a bid to change the direction steering them into a relegation battle.
Now 12th in the Premier League, Gerrard has put the club in a much stronger position going into the second half of the season, but with the transfer window opening in the next 72 hours, the new manager could be about to lose his first player from the squad.
What’s the word?
According to reports from Tuttomercatoweb, Napoli will make a decision on a move in the next 48 hours for Axel Tuanzebe, who is currently on a season long loan with Aston Villa from Manchester United.
The reports suggest that the deal is close, but the only part missing is an agreement on how much the 24 year old will cost Napoli, which is expected to be negotiated in the next few days.
Fabrizio Romano has also added fuel to the fire, tweeting this morning to confirm further information about a potential move for the Villa loanee;
“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. Blue circle #MUFC #Napoli”
“Aston Villa are waiting – nothing agreed yet.”
Last season, Tuanzebe made a glittering performance against PSG in the Champions League that lead Manchester United team mate, David De Gea, to hail the young defender “unbelievable”
In the post match MUTV interview De Gea said;
“He has been unbelievable today.”
“He played against two of the best players in the world in Neymar and Mbappe so he did really, really well.”
Tuanzebe has made nine appearances out of a possible 18 for Aston Villa this season in the Premier League, but has only played eight minutes of football in the last seven games since the former Liverpool midfielder has taken over management of the side.
Gerrard will be fuming
Despite a lack of game time since Dean Smith departed almost two months ago, the £48K-a-week earning gem’s arrival in the summer was always a risky choice when a dynamic and blossoming centre back partnership was already forming in Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings.
The risk didn’t pay off after Gerrard’s arrival, where he mostly uses a formation of 4-3-2-1, in which he favours the experienced partnership of Konsa and Mings.
Gerrard will be fuming that the young defender could go into the important game distracted by the thought of a potential move away to Napoli, with the clash away from home their first opportunity to pick up points after a home defeat to title challengers, Chelsea, on Boxing Day.
They then had a postponement of their game against Leeds United due to virus outbreaks, that has now set the side back in their pursuit in challenging for a spot in the top half of the table.
The Villa boss will be hoping to take all three points on Sunday and if selected, Tuanzebe could use the opportunity to showcase his ability to Napoli, if a deal hasn’t already been agreed by then.
This is a distraction that Gerrard really could have done without.
In other news: Steven Gerrard must axe Trezeguet