Axel Tuanzebe's brother and agent, Dimitri Tuanzebe has insisted that the bad blood between the infamous United-Liverpool rivalries influenced Steven Gerrard to not give Tuanzebe a fair chance at Aston Villa after his arrival as manager. The English defender joined Napoli on loan earlier this month.
Axel Tuanzebe rose up from the ranks of the Manchester United youth academy after he joined the Red Devils at the age of eight. The English defender made his first-team debut in January 2017 but has failed to establish himself as a regular in the starting line-up as he has just made 37 appearances for the Manchester club in the five years since his debut.
The 24-year-old had enjoyed a fruitful loan spell at Aston Villa in the 2018/19 campaign as he helped the club secure promotion back to the Premier League from the Championship.
Tuanzebe joined the Villans ahead of the current campaign on loan, again, and started the season well as a first-team regular but the Englishman's fortunes changed after the arrival of Steven Gerrard as manager as he only played eight minutes under the former Liverpool man's reign.
The United defender’s loan spell at Villa was cut short this month as he made the move to Napoli on a temporary basis until the end of the season. In light of that, Dimitri Tuanzebe, Tuanzebe’s agent and brother, has claimed that Gerrard's history at Liverpool was negatively affecting Tuanzebe’s chances at first-team football at Villa.
"Axel is very excited to begin a new chapter in his football career, playing abroad and for a club with so much history behind it and fans who worship football. Axel didn't decide to move until it became very clear that he isn't the manager's first-choice centre-back," Dimitri told ESPN.
"However, following the arrival of Steven Gerrard at Villa Park, it felt as if the rivalry between Man United and Liverpool came to life. Axel was very open to staying at Villa, he loves the fans, 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."