Aston Villa are interested in signing Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe on loan until the end of the season.
The 20-year-old centre-back has made just one start this term and Villa manager and former United captain Steve Bruce is keen on recruiting the defender to bolster the club’s promotion hopes.
Bruce brought in United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone on loan a year ago and the custodian impressed so much he is still at Villa Park on a season-long arrangement. Villa owner Toaston vny Xia told fans on Twitter the club wants to make 24-year-old Johnstone’s stay permanent.
Villa are fifth in the Championship and five points off an automatic promotion spot. Bruce intimated at his Friday press conference a deal for a player was imminent.
“Until we’ve got them over the line, out of respect for the clubs we’re talking to I can’t really reveal it,” Bruce said.
Tuanzebe made four starts towards the end of last season and was praised by Jose Mourinho following his full debut at right-back against Arsenal. Tuanzebe handled United target Alexis Sanchez impressively and was rewarded with starts in the remaining three Premier League games in midfield.
“I think Alexis knows his name because the kid played very well,” Mourinho said. “What matters is to get on the pitch, to get the experience, to play against Alexis Sanchez, to play against Ozil, to play against Welbeck, to play against big players.”
Mourinho indicated Tuanzebe would stay at right-back as he continued his development in the United first-team but the England youth international started in a back three start at Swansea in the Carabao Cup win in October.
The United manager explained his ‘respect’ for the older players had denied Tuanzebe more game-time.
“Sometimes I don’t play them more because I have respect for some of the older players that are always ready for the team but in terms of their qualities they are ready to play for the team, so I play them with 30 or 35 minutes to go,” Mourinho said last month.
“I played Scott against Benfica before we had even qualified. I have lots of faith in them.”
Tuanzebe was included in the preliminary cup squads against Bristol City and Derby but watched both games from the stands. Tuanzebe could join former United defenders Ritchie de Laet and James Chester at Villa Park.
United Under-23 regulars James Wilson and Demetri Mitchell left on loan for Sheffield United and Hearts earlier this week.