An update has emerged on reported Aston Villa transfer target Axel Tuanzebe regarding his most likely destination this summer.
According to Football Insider, Villa chief Johan Lange has been dealt a blow in his pursuit of the Manchester United centre-back, with Newcastle now the favourites to land him on loan.
The report claims that Steve Bruce has promised the Red Devils that Tuanzebe will play regular football at St James’ Park, which seems to have put them ahead of Villa in the race for his signature.
Dean Smith will be livid with this news as it suggests that Newcastle are now poised to sign Tuanzebe ahead of Villa before the end of the window. The former Brentford coach reportedly wants to bring the England under-21 international back to the Midlands following his loan spell at Villa Park in 2018/19, and missing out on him to a Premier League rival could be a bitter blow.
The issue for Villa is that they may not be able to match the Magpies in terms of the promises they can make to the centre-back. Bruce has told the Red Devils that the 23-year-old will be a starter in their team, but Smith cannot do the same with Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings currently at the Midlands club.
They both played 36 of Villa’s 38 games in the Premier League, with Konsa averaging a WhoScored rating of 6.75 and Mings scoring 6.81. This suggests that Villa do not have an opening for a centre-back to come in and immediately be a consistent starter, which means that Tuanzebe could only be competition for the duo, making a loan to Smith’s side less attractive to Manchester United than the Newcastle proposal.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was quick to praise the defender after his showing against Paris Saint-Germain last year as he hailed the academy product as a great leader.
The Norwegian 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.
Solskjaer added: “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.”
This shows how much potential the £38k-per-week defender has and why Smith wants to add him to his squad to provide competition for Mings and Konsa. He will be hoping that the situation can change in the coming weeks, but for now he will be fuming that Newcastle are the favourites to snap up Tuanzebe.