Manchester United are reportedly closing in on their first summer signing with former goalkeeper Tom Heaton poised to join on a free transfer.
According to a report from The Telegraph, Manchester United are on the verge of completing their first transfer of the summer with former goalkeeper Tom Heaton close to returning to Old Trafford from Aston Villa.
Heaton came through the youth ranks at Manchester United but never managed a first-team appearance thanks to the immovable presence of Edwin van der Sar between the sticks. The Englishman had six loan spells at six different clubs during his time with the Red Devils before eventually leaving for Cardiff City on a free transfer in 2010.
After spending two years with the Welsh outfit, Heaton signed from Bristol City before finding his home at Burnley in 2013. It is at Turf Moor where the shot-stopper became an established household name, helping them to promotion to the Premier League on two different occasions. After six years and 200 appearances for the Clarets, the 35-year-old signed for Aston Villa in 2019 but has endured a difficult time in the Midlands.
Even though Heaton started out as the first-choice upon his arrival, a serious injury meant he missed a large chunk of the last season, forcing the Villans to sign Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal last summer. And the South American has been absolutely top-notch this term, which has meant that the veteran goalkeeper hasn’t had a chance to play even a single minute of firs-team football in 2020/21.
And, with his contract with Aston Villa now on the verge of expiry, Heaton could be on his way back to boyhood club Manchester United. The Red Devils have been linked with a move for the 35-year-old ahead of the summer as they prepare for a revamp of the goalkeeping department at the end of the season.
Indeed, backup goalkeeper Sergio Romero is on his way out as his contract expires while the case is the same with veteran custodian Lee Grant as well as Joel Pereira, who is currently on loan at Huddersfield Town. With Dean Henderson and David de Gea the two preferred options in the first-team squad for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, they will be needing an able third-choice goalkeeper to step in when needed.
And, Heaton, given his proven pedigree in the Premier League as well as his history with Manchester United makes for a top-choice. With his contract with Aston Villa running out in a matter of weeks, the report states that the three-time capped England international will be on his way to Old Trafford once he does become a free agent.
However, that may be not all for Manchester United with regard to their goalkeeping recruitment. There have been strong rumours that David de Gea, too, could be on his way out, having now fallen behind Dean Henderson in the pecking order under Solskjaer. To that end, a new No. 2 could also be needed at the club come summer, with another ex-Red Devil, Sam Johnstone, being heavily linked.
It remains to be seen if Manchester United do decide to go that route, but for now Heaton seems to be on his way back to his boyhood club on a free transfer.