Axel Tuanzebe's agent has revealed that the Manchester United youngster cut short his loan with Aston Villa as he believed new boss Steven Gerrard was not prepared to select him.
Tuanzebe played just eight minutes following the arrival of Liverpool legend Gerrard at Villa Park and has since jetted off to Napoli, with whom he will spend the remainder of the season before returning to United in the summer.
There were concerns that Gerrard's Liverpool roots, and the underlying rivalry with United that comes along with them, could get in the way of Tuanzebe's time at Villa, and his agent has now confirmed they shared those concerns.
"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," Dimitri Tuanzebe told ESPN.
"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.
"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 Utd 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."
The agent then went on to admit that joining Napoli was a no-brainer and he praised United for helping them get a move over the line.
"The move was very easy," Dimitri added. "Man Utd was very supportive of the move, made sure that it was in favour of Axel's career and Napoli did everything within their power to make the deal possible. As Axel's agent, I made sure that the deal went ahead by working in collaboration with trusted partners in the UK and Italy.
"Man Utd contacted me directly to notify me of Napoli's interest, I added them to the list of clubs interested and then assessed all options with the help of my family, trusted partners and Axel.
"After multiple meetings with interested clubs' sporting directors and managers, we all concluded that Napoli is the best option.
"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."
Source : 90min