Alex Tuanzebe's agent claims Steven Gerrard didn't play him at Aston Villa due to Man Utd rivalry

Steven Gerrard and Axel Tuanzebe

Axel Tuanzebe’s spell at Aston Villa was cut short earlier this month.

The Englishman signed for the club from Manchester United on a season-long loan at the start of the campaign.

Tuanzebe featured heavily under Dean Smith towards the start of the 2021/22 season.

But his fortunes changed when Smith was relieved of his duties and replaced by Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard only gave Tuanzebe eight minutes of football since being appointed as Villa manager in November.

And Tuanzebe’s agent and brother, Dimirti, thinks he didn’t feature much because of Gerrard’s rivalry with United.

Gerrard, of course, had many battles with United during his lengthy stint at their fierce rivals, Liverpool.


“Axel didn’t decide to move until it became very clear that he isn’t the manager’s first-choice centre-back and the Napoli offer was very tempting,” he told ESPN.

“I have a lot of mixed emotions when it comes to Axel’s time at Villa. He is loved by the fans as he contributed highly to the club’s success in the Championship where he was one of the key players that helped Villa return to the Premier League.

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

“For the avoidance of doubts, Axel was very open to staying at Villa, he loves the fans, being in Birmingham but he also has a career that he can only build and reach his full potential in an environment where opportunities to play are fair.”

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That is a very bold claim to make.

Tuanzebe recently moved on loan to Napoli and made his debut for the Italian club on Sunday evening.

“Axel was persuaded by the clear path into the team, also a success story of players who have enjoyed playing time since they signed for Napoli after a lack of opportunities at their previous clubs,” Dimirti added.

“Napoli is in a great position in Serie A, the league title is in sight and they’re also in the Europa league where anything is possible.”

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