Steve Bruce hoping to bring Manchester United's Axel Tuanzebe back to Aston Villa
Steve Bruce wants to bring Axel Tuanzebe back to Villa as he faces up to the prospect of a defensive rebuild.
Tuanzebe spent the second half of the season on loan from Manchester United and Bruce is ready to approach Jose Mourinho to see if the 20-year-old is available for a full campaign.
Villa are already a man down in central defence after skipper John Terry left, following their failure to win promotion to the Premier League.
Fellow veteran Chris Samba is also expected to depart, while Reading are keen to sign Tommy Elphick on a permanent deal, after the 30-year-old spent the second of the season on loan at the Madejski Stadium.
Player of the season James Chester is, meanwhile, one of several prize assets who could be sold as Villa look to balance the books.
Brighton and Stoke are both interested in the Wales international and reports have suggested they could table bids as early as this week in order to test Villa’s resolve.
Tuanzebe made only five appearances during his loan spell due to injury but impressed Villa’s coaching staff with his attitude. His versatility - Tuanzebe can play in both full-back positions and central midfield as well as defence - is also seen as a huge bonus.
Though some doubts still linger over Bruce’s own position, the manager has got to work on Villa’s summer recruitment after learning of his playing budget last week.
Bruce and technical director Steve Round moved quickly to secure a new one-year deal for defender Alan Hutton, with Tuanzebe also high on their list.
Villa face a difficult summer due to owner Tony Xia’s cash crisis and the need to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations.
Star man Jack Grealish will likely be sold in order to plug the latter gap with Villa wanting a fee of around £30million for the 22-year-old ace.
Tottenham are ready to bid £15million while Leicester, another potential suitor, see Grealish as a secondary target behind Norwich City’s James Maddison.