Aston Villa are facing the prospect of losing out on Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe amid a recent transfer update.
What’s the story?
Reports in recent weeks have claimed that the centre-back could be set for a reunion with Dean Smith, having, of course, played under the Villa boss during their time in the Championship.
Football Insider delivered an update on the £50k-a-week earning defender’s situation, saying that: “A Villa source has told Football Insider that the club have been given encouragement that United are planning to let Tuanzebe go in the current window. The 20-times champions have been sounded out by Villa over a potential deal and they will listen to offers if they can secure a replacement.”
Should Villa sign Tuanzebe?
But now, the same outlet have now claimed that fellow Premier League side Newcastle have leapfrogged Villa in the race to sign Tuanzebe on loan, with the Magpies increasingly confident of striking a deal.
Dean Smith will be livid
The £6m-rated ace came in for some big praise from United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season after a particularly impressive display against French giants PSG in the Champions League.
He said: “Axel’s a tremendous defender, a great leader. He’s come through the academy and we’ve known for years that he’s going to be a top player for us and he’s got the character and the attitude that a Man United player should have. Sometimes you’ll get in a foot race with Mbappe and you have to run with him and we know Axel’s qualities, he’s a top defender.”
While he may not have had too many minutes in the top-flight last year, Tuanzebe showed exactly why Villa are after him, averaging 1.4 tackles per game and boasting an impressive 88.6% pass accuracy – as per Whoscored, both of those stats are actually better than Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings.
What will frustrate Smith is that given his previous ties to Tuanzebe, and the fact that reports suggested Villa had sounded out United over a potential deal much earlier, Newcastle swooping in at the last moment to sign him will sting.
With Bjorn Engels’ departure, Villa are left with a real shortage of centre-back options, and Tuanzebe on a season-long loan would’ve fit the bill to a tee given his Premier League experience and the fact he’s been at the club before.
This latest update will have Smith livid with the club failing to get his man in. News that he’s now closer to joining a fellow Premier League side at that, is unlikely to help how he feels either.