By Wayne Veysey

6th Aug, 2021 | 4:54pm

Sources: Major update on Aston Villa and Newcastle race to sign Tuanzebe after private talks

Newcastle United are in pole position to sign Axel Tuanzebe even though Aston Villa have no issue with Man United’s price demands, Football Insider understands.

United plan to loan out the versatile defender, 23, after signing Raphael Varane from Man United.

A recruitment source has told Football Insider that Newcastle are the current favourites to secure an agreement as they can offer Tuanzebe a regular starting role.

Manager Steve Bruce is believed to have reassured his United counterpart Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer in private talks that Tuanzebe would play if he joined.

But Newcastle will still need to pay the multi-million pound loan fee the 2-times champions are demanding as well as cover the player’s wages.

That would be less of an issue for big-spending Villa, who have just sold Jack Grealish to Man City in a £100million deal.

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Football Insider first revealed their interest in re-signing their former loan star on 1 May and they then made an enquiry after letting Bjorn Engels go earlier in the window.

Dean Smith wants an athletic centre-back with Premier League experience to provide cover and competition for first-choice duo Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa.

Manager Steve Bruce is keen for more pace in his back line and believes Tuanzebe, one of the quickest players at Man United, fits the bill.

Tuanzebe impressed during two previous loan spells at Villa, including in their promotion-winning campaign.

He was on the fringes of Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer’s team last season, making 19 appearances across all competitions but only four Premier League starts.

In other news, Southampton respond to mega-money Aston Villa bid for Ward-Prowse.