Bjorn Engels left Aston Villa to join Royal Antwerp this summer, leading to Dean Smith bringing Axel Tuanzebe back to the Midlands.

Recent reports suggest the 23-year-old could be open to a permanent stay too, as his hopes of being a regular at Manchester United have been dashed following the arrival of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.

Alex McLeish, who managed Villa between 2011 and 2012, believes Tuanzebe joining permanently would be a “brilliant move”, telling Football Insider: “The fact he can be in a squad as strong as (Villa’s) is a reason to be proud and should give him the mental strength to challenge for a permanent position.

“He’s a good athlete and he is part of a really good squad. It could be a brilliant move.” Tuanzebe has made 37 appearances in all competitions for United since rising through the youth ranks to the first-team.

He’s currently behind Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly in the pecking order, however, so the 23-year-old’s future at Old Trafford is uncertain.

Tuanzebe is now in his third loan stint at Villa (January 2018 – May 2018) (August 2018 – May 2019) (August 2021 – present) and has made more appearances for them (39) than United.

The fact he’s open to staying beyond the season is a real boost too, as he’s a good defender who can operate in multiple positions. Villa also have the resources to sign him, so this might be one deal to watch.

In other news, fans on social media want Aston Villa to sign James Ward-Prowse