Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer trimmed his squad ahead of Raphael Varane’s arrival by shipping out Axel Tuanzebe on loan to Aston Villa on Sunday.
The announcement of Tuanzebe’s switch for a season-long stay at Villa comes as United prepare to finalise the signing of France centre-back Varane from Real Madrid.
The Varane deal looked set to push Tuanzebe further towards the fringes of the Red Devils squad, and the 23-year-old will have more obvious first-team prospects at Villa Park, where he has spent two previous loan stints.
Tuanzebe’s spells at Villa came in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, before he looked to establish himself in the United first-team squad under Solskjaer.
Although Tuanzebe has left Old Trafford for now, he has signed a one-year extension to his United contract that had been due to expire at the end of the new season.
It means he has committed until the end of June 2023, with United having an option for a further 12 months, and Solskjaer will hope a full season of action with Villa sees the versatile defender fulfil the potential he has shown.
Villa said in a statement: “Aston Villa is delighted to announce the loan signing of Axel Tuanzebe from Manchester United. The defender returns to Villa Park on a season-long arrangement.
“Tuanzebe was a key member of the squad that helped Villa clinch promotion back to the Premier League in 2019.”
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) August 8, 2021
The English defender started four Premier League games for United last season and played just 402 minutes in the top flight
United, in announcing the deal, said: “Having endured a difficult campaign last time out due to a couple of injuries, the highly rated centre-back will use this loan as a vital opportunity to assert himself and make an impression.”
The signing of Varane is expected to go through in the coming days, with Solskjaer recently telling United’s club website “paperwork” matters were holding up its completion.
Last season’s Premier League runners-up begin the 2021-22 campaign with a home clash against Leeds United on Saturday, August 14.