Transfer news: Aston Villa want deal with Premier League rivals over "great leader"

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith looking over his shoulder

Aston Villa are interested in signing Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe on loan for the 2021/22 season, according to Football Insider.

What’s the latest transfer news involving Tuanzebe?

The Villans are set to offload Bjorn Engels to Royal Antwerp, and Dean Smith wants to bring in a centre-back who can provide cover and compete with the likes of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa next term.

Tuanzebe has been identified as a target, and Villa are expected to make a move for the 23-year-old if they receive encouragement that the 6 foot 1 defender is keen on a loan switch to Villa Park.

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Has Tuanzebe played under Dean Smith before?

Back in August 2018, Tuanzebe arrived at Villa on a season-long loan deal from United. He started the campaign under the guidance of Steve Bruce, only for Smith to come in and replace Bruce in October.

The former England Under-21 international made 16 Championship appearances with Smith in the dugout, either side of suffering a metatarsal fracture. The team kept five clean sheets in these matches on their way to booking their place in the play-offs.

He went on to play every minute in the semi-finals and final, helping the team confirm their return to the top-flight by seeing off Derby 2-1 at Wembley.

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What has Solskjaer said about Tuanzebe?

Tuanzebe has found game time hard to come by over the past year as he has been restricted to just 19 appearances in all competitions for United, with only nine of them coming in the Premier League.

However, he is still highly-rated by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who heaped praise on the central defender back in October when he produced a fine display in United’s 2-1 away win against PSG in the Champions League.

As quoted by the club’s official website, Solskjaer 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.”

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Aston Villa

Where did Ezri Konsa start his career?

Would Tuanzebe be a good signing for Villa?

Tuanzebe has been unfortunate with injuries in the early years of his professional career. According to Transfermarkt, he has already missed 64 games due to fitness setbacks, which is far from ideal for a young defender making his way in the game.

Yet Solskjaer still thinks highly of Tuanzebe, and it is easy to see why. After playing his part in Villa’s promotion in 2018/19, he has shown glimpses of his potential, and he did not look out of place when he came up against Kylian Mbappe and co. earlier this season.

This indicates that he is capable of performing at the highest level, and if he can remain fit, Villa will have a fine defender on their hands to complement Mings and Konsa next year.

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