Axel moved to Villa Park in the summer from Manchester United on a season-long loan deal, but his parent club decided to recall him this month as he was struggling to get game time under new Lions boss Gerrard.


The centre-back has been allowed to leave on loan again for the remainder of the season and is now plying his trade at Serie A giants Napoli.



Axel’s agent Dimitri has suggested that the rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool stopped ex-Red Gerrard from picking the centre-back in his team.


Dimitri added that Axel is loved by the Aston Villa faithful but his latest temporary spell at the Midlands club took an unfavourable turn following Gerrard’s arrival.



“I have a lot of mixed emotions when it comes to Axel’s time at Villa”, Dimitri told ESPN.


“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”, he added.


Axel made his debut for Napoli on Sunday in a 1-0 Serie A win against Sampdoria while Gerrard is busy bolstering his squad in the ongoing transfer window.