Aston Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton is close to completing a return to Manchester United. The Telegraph’s Mike McGrath reports that the 35-year-old will link up with the Red Devils to replace Sergio Romero as the club’s back-up goalkeeper.
Romero has long been frustrated by his position at the club, with both David De Gea and Dean Henderson ahead of him. He has received interest from Serie A and could join up again with Jose Mourinho following his appointment at Roma.
Tom Heaton Close to Re-Joining Manchester United
Back Where it Began
After joining the academy at Manchester United from Wrexham, Heaton came through the ranks at the club but never made a senior appearance for them. Instead, he plied his trade in the EFL and abroad with the likes of Swindon Town, Royal Antwerp and Cardiff City to name a few.
Heaton is mostly known to Premier League fans for his time at Burnley. Here, he was a standout figure in Sean Dyche’s sides that constantly defied expectations in the top flight. He stuck with the club after their relegation in 2015 and helped them win an immediate return to the Premier League.
After the emergence of Nick Pope, though, Heaton’s playing time at Burnley slowly reduced, and he completed a move to Aston Villa in 2019 following their promotion back to England’s top tier.
Struggles at Villa
Heaton’s spell in the West Midlands hasn’t gone to plan. His first year came to an end only halfway through the campaign when he suffered a season-ending knee injury, thus allowing Orjan Nyland to come into the side.
After the purchase of Emiliano Martinez in the summer and his subsequent performances, it’s unlikely Heaton is going to get a look in again at Villa, hence the probable return north to Manchester United.
A Common Move
Manchester United often have plenty of goalkeepers in their squad. Aside from the aforementioned three, they also have Lee Grant on their books as well as a number of promising talents in the youth teams.
With Romero likely to depart, Heaton will fill the gap left by him. With at least two goalkeepers ahead of him, he’s highly unlikely to receive any significant playing time. However, if one of Henderson or De Gea were to leave in the summer, he could be bumped up the pecking order and feature in cup matches.
Regardless of how it pans out, it’s certainly a move that suggests Heaton’s career is eking out and nearing its conclusion. Having played regularly in the Premier League and represented his country on more than one occasion, it’s definitely a career he can look back on fondly.