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Liverpool star the ultimate prize as Gerrard plays long game with Man Utd

Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard will hold firm over a Manchester United star, thus giving more time to plot a move for a Liverpool talent next summer, per a report.

Gerrard has breathed new life into Aston Villa’s season since taking charge. The Reds legend has overseen four victories in his first six matches. The other two contests against Manchester City and Liverpool ended in defeat, though only by a single goal on each occasion.

Gerrard has quickly helped shore up a Villa defence that had been creaking under Dean Smith.

However, one centre-back who has not benefitted from the managerial change is Axel Tuanzebe.

The Manchester United defender, 24, is in his third loan stint at Villa Park. Tuanzebe had featured in Smith’s experimental back three system prior to his sacking. Since Gerrard took charge, Tuanzebe has been afforded just eight minutes of league action.

However, according to the Athletic, Gerrard and Villa have no plans to terminate Tuanzebe’s loan. That’s despite the outlet acknowledging that a new central defender is a priority in the next two windows, and sending Tuanzebe back could have freed up space for a new signing.

Villa have drawn links with Liverpool’s Joe Gomez of late. The 24-year-old has rarely featured under Jurgen Klopp this season with new arrival Ibrahima Konate leapfrogging him in the pecking order.

That sparked the attentions of both Aston Villa and Real Madrid, and the Daily Express revealed three names were in the frame to succeed Gomez if he left Anfield.

However, the Athletic’s Villa correspondent, Gregg Evans, has hinted a new defender is unlikely to be signed until one is sold or Tuanzebe returns to United. But the likelihood of Tuanzebe returning to Old Trafford prematurely in January is low at present.

Gerrard prioritising new Villa spine

“Villa are looking at central defenders and central midfielders, and will monitor options over the next two windows,” wrote Evans in a Q&A.

“Liverpool’s Joe Gomez is admired, so, too, Stoke City’s Harry Souttar.

“But I’d be surprised to see a defender arrive without either [a player] leaving or Axel Tuanzebe returning to Manchester United, both of which look unlikely in the next window.

“Souttar is also out with a long-term injury so is a more likely summer target.”

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Man City readying Erling Haaland bid

Meanwhile, Man City are reportedly preparing to hand Ralf Rangnick and Man Utd a major blow by signing one of their top striker targets – Erling Haaland.

Sport Witness, citing German newspaper Bildprovide a big update on the transfer hunt of the Norwegian phenom.

They claim City are ‘ready to pay’ the release clause of Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland. It will activate next summer and is reportedly worth €75m (£63m).

Haaland already has links with the Citizens, as his father Alf-Inge played for them between 2000 and 2003.

The news means Rangnick and Man Utd will need to formalise a transfer strategy, and fast. If they want to keep Haaland from the clutches of their rivals then they will need to match his release clause themselves.

Dortmund, however, have a plan to keep the Norwegian around. They are set to engage in talks with Haaland and his representatives next month to discover what his plans are.

This could result in a new contract in Germany, and in turn, a more worthy release clause of over £100m.

READ MORE: Milinkovic-Savic delivers emphatic response to reports of Rangnick wish

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