By Jonty Banks

4th May, 2023 | 3:16pm

Aston Villa should explore Tim Iroegbunam Rangers loan interest, Michael Beale reunion match made in heaven

Aston Villa academy sensation Tim Iroegbunam has moved from strength to strength at QPR this season, but whether he is ready for first-team action under Unai Emery next term is still debatable.

The 19-year-old central midfielder was sent on loan to QPR last summer when Michael Beale took charge at the club, with the pair having previously worked together at Bodymoor Heath.

Football Insider (1 May) have now reported that Rangers are exploring a potential deal – both permanent and loan – for the teenager this summer, with Beale a huge admirer of Iroegbunam from his time at both Villa Park and Loftus Road.

The England Under-20 international still has four years left to run of his contract which he signed in March 2022, so a permanent transfer away from Aston Villa doesn’t seem likely.

However, the possibility of a loan move for next season makes a lot of sense for both parties.

Unai Emery is expected to be given a war chest by Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris for the upcoming transfer window, with added strength in the middle of the park looking like one of his number one priorities.

If the Spaniard does indeed go shopping for further midfield cover beyond the likes of Boubacar Kamara, Douglas Luiz and Leander Dendoncker, Iroegbunam could well find himself surplus to requirements at Villa Park.

After successfully navigating the baptism of fire that the Championship can often throw up, a step up to the pressure cauldron of Rangers could be the natural next step in the academy graduate’s career.

With Iroegbunam having played under Beale twice before and thriving under the Englishman’s guidance in the early stages of the 2022/23, this seems like a match made in heaven if both parties can agree to terms.

Iroegbunam has only made four senior starts for Aston Villa, and as has been proven by the likes of youngsters such as Dele Alli and Jude Bellingham over the last few years, getting regular game time in the infancy of their careers helped them in the long run.

Aston Villa might be tempted to keep Iroegbunam on at Villa Park next season, but would he really do much more than play the odd cup match or come off the bench for a five-minute cameo?

It might not be a move that Villa fans will enjoy in the short term, but a loan to Rangers looks like the best option for Iroegbunam’s long-term career at B6.

In other Aston Villa news, the Villans have been backed to complete one major deal in the summer after an update from Fabrizio Romano.