Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe is reportedly on the verge of joining Serie A giants Napoli on a short-term loan deal.
According to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, Napoli are closing in on the capture of Axel Tuanzebe. The Serie A giants have already agreed a deal with Manchester United surrounding a loan move until the end of the season. Napoli are expected to pay around €500,000 in loan fees for the services of the defender, who is soon set to complete his medical in Italy.
Tuanzebe is likely being brought in by Napoli as a direct replacement for Kostas Manolas. The experienced Greek centre-back had confirmed earlier that he was set to rejoin his former club Olympiacos in January, thus leaving Luciano Spalletti with Amir Rrahmani and Kalidou Koulibaly as the only reliable options in central defence.
The addition of Tuanzebe, to that end, should help Napoli find cover for the two experienced centre-backs. It should also complete a remarkable turnaround for the defender, who had joined Aston Villa on a season-long loan deal in the summer.
The Englishman initially had a strong to the season, even expressing the desire to make his Villa move permanent at one point. But since the start of November, the defender has featured in 98 minutes of league action, falling behind Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and even Kortney Hause in the pecking order.
It appears Tuanzebe is not highly rated by new manager Steven Gerrard, who is already prepared to replace him by targeting Liverpool defender Joe Gomez.
As a result, the Manchester United loanee is set for a return to Old Trafford before eventually moving on to Napoli. His loan move to Italy might benefit the Red Devils considering the recent success English defenders have had in the Serie A, including Fikayo Tomori and Chris Smalling.
However, it will be interesting to see if Manchester United allow Napoli to include a purchase clause in Tuanzebe’s contract, allowing the Partenopei to sign the defender permanently on a cut-price deal next summer.
It seems unlikely at this point as Manchester United have worries over their lack of depth in defence, especially with Phil Jones recently being linked with a January move to Newcastle United. Hence, the Red Devils might want to keep Tuanzebe on their books and ideally monitor his progress in the Serie A before making a decision in the summer.