Man Utd’s first summer signing has already enraged Sir Alex Ferguson

Tom Heaton is closing in on a Manchester United return more than a decade after he decided to try his luck elsewhere.

The 35-year-old has agreed to sign for United with his Aston Villa contract set to expire this summer.

He will provide additional competition behind David de Gea and Dean Henderson, although a decision still needs to be made on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s No.1 for next term.

Sergio Romero and Lee Grant could both move on at the end of the season, with the pair set to become free agents.

Heaton will likely take on the role that Grant has held at Old Trafford in recent seasons and offer an experienced and safe pair of hands.

Tom Heaton has agreed to sign for Manchester United when his Aston Villa contract expires

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It sees the former England international return to the club that helped shape him into a pro after signing as a trainee aged just 16.

After moving through the developmental squads at Carrington, Heaton was sent out on six loans between 2005 and 2010.

With his contract running out after that sixth spell, the keeper made the brave decision to break free from the United shackles and join Cardiff City on a free transfer.

And it was a choice which has reaped huge rewards, going on to enjoy a long career as a first-choice stopper, with much of that coming in the Premier League with Burnley.

But one man who was not happy with Heaton’s judgement on departing Old Trafford was Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Scot wanted to keep him at the club, after spending years developing him into a player that could thrive in the upper echelons of English football.

Speaking to Star Sport in 2019, Heaton alluded to an “interesting moment” with the legendary former boss after he snubbed a new contract.

He said: “It was, how do you say, an interesting moment. I ­understood his point of view. I’d been there since I was a kid. He was offering me a new contract and I was turning it down.

“He wasn’t best pleased! So, I was on the end of it a bit. I totally understood it because they had invested a lot of time in me.

Heaton infuriated Sir Alex Ferguson when he decided to leave Old Trafford in 2010
Heaton infuriated Sir Alex Ferguson when he decided to leave Old Trafford in 2010

“But I knew what was right for me. It was a risk, but it was one I wanted to take. I walked out of his office with my tail between my legs.

“It needed to be done. It was the right decision. I knew that and I never wavered from it.”

Thankfully for Heaton, who is set to be reunited with Sir Alex in a matter of weeks, Fergie did change his tune and told him he fully respected his decision.

And with Heaton set to return in the same method he once left, Ferguson will surely welcome him back with open arms.

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