Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe is close to sealing a loan move to Napoli, reports The Guardian.

Tuanzebe’s stint at Aston Villa was fairly unimpressive and he failed to win over new boss Steven Gerrard, even though he insisted he wanted to keep him.

The move to Napoli is a great opportunity for Tuanzebe to rejuvenate his career. Now 24, he needs a fresh start, having entered the season as fifth choice at Manchester United.

A combination of misfortune with injuries and mixed displays, some outstanding, some poor, have made it tough for Tuanzebe to establish himself at Old Trafford.

Derby County v Manchester United - Pre-Season Friendly
(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

English centre-back success in Italy

The last two English centre-backs to make loan moves to Italy have played so well they both ended up signing in Serie A on a permanent basis.

The first of these was Tuanzebe’s former United clubmate Chris Smalling, who starred for Roma during the 2019/20 season, and the Italian side went onto sign him permanently.

Chelsea loaned Fikayo Tomori to AC Milan last January in a move Tuanzebe may also find inspiring. Tomori was really impressive and established himself as a regular in the defence, and Milan took advantage of a buy clause in the loan agreement to sign him permanently.

There is no such purchase option in Napoli’s loan deal for Tuanzebe, but considering the competition for places at United, if he is a success and plays regularly, a permanent move could suit all parties, with United getting the chance to cash in on a squad player.

Partnership with Koulibaly

One key attraction for Tuanzebe is getting the chance to partner towering Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly.

The Times reported how United tried to sign Koulibaly in 2018 when Jose Mourinho was in charge, only to be quoted £90 million by Napoli.

SSC Napoli v SS Lazio - Serie A
(Photo by Ivan Romano/Getty Images)

So while Tuanzebe could have ended up partnering Koulibaly at United had that deal gone through, the pair will now get the chance to play together in Serie A.

This partnership will help Tuanzebe, with Koulibaly an experienced and strong defender who will make life easier for him.

With Koulibaly only 30, this is a partnership which could last a few seasons still if Tuanzebe signs in Naples permanently.

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