Aston Villa could miss out to Newcastle United in the race for Axel Tuanzebe, according to Football Insider.
The Manchester United defender has been made available for loan following the signing of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.
And Dean Smith is apparently keen to recruit an ‘athletic’ centre-back to provide cover and competition for the first-choice partnership of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa.
Tuanzebe has already spent time on loan at Villa Park, but intriguingly it was during Steve Bruce’s tenure.
As per a recruitment source, Newcastle have the advantage after Bruce assured Solskjaer that Tuanzebe would enjoy a ‘regular starting role’ at St James’ Park. Manchester United are seemingly concerned that the 23-year-old wouldn’t be afforded those kind of opportunities at Villa.
The report does offer supporters some grounds for hope, though, by pointing out that covering the ‘multi-million pound’ loan fee as well as the player’s wages would be ‘less of an issue’ for Villa than it would be for the Magpies.
Recruiting an additional centre-back is an absolute must for Villa. Smith only has three senior options at his disposal at present and adding genuine competition will theoretically extract more from Konsa and, especially, Mings.
Tuanzebe would be an excellent signing, but you can very much understand Manchester United’s concerns.
Perhaps Smith could express a willingness to use a 3-5-2 shape in certain games, significantly improving Tuanzebe’s prospects. That would also have the added bonus of accommodating both Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins at the head of the team.
In other news, there’s an update on Villa’s pursuit of James Ward-Prowse.
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