Manchester United have confirmed the signing of former academy goalkeeper Tom Heaton on a two-year contract until 2023 with the option of an extra 12 months.
The free transfer comes following Heaton’s release from Aston Villa at the end of his contract there and marks a return to United, where he previously spent 13 years from the age of 11 to 24.
Heaton never actually played a first-team game for United during his first spell at the club and was loaned out to Swindon, Royal Antwerp, Cardiff, QPR, Rochdale and Wycombe before eventually sealing a permanent transfer to Cardiff in 2010.
The goalkeeper later had one season with Bristol City in 2012/13 but rose to national prominence after he joined Burnley, helping establish the Clarets as a Premier League club with two promotions and even playing his way into the England squad.
One of Heaton’s most memorable games for Burnley was actually against United at Old Trafford in 2016, during which he made a string of top saves, including a point blank block with an outstretched arm to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic and preserve a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw.
Having spent the last two years at Aston Villa, making 20 appearances, the 35-year-old adds depth to a United goalkeeping department that contains David de Gea and Dean Henderson.
“For me to have the opportunity to come back after spending 13 great years here as a kid, it’s an incredible feeling and I’m really, really excited to get started,” Heaton told ManUtd.com.
“I’m just seeing it as a fantastic opportunity as I still feel I’ve got an awful lot to give and I’ve got the bit between my teeth. I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running. I feel in great shape and I’m looking forward to coming in to compete with the other goalkeepers.”
Heaton’s return to United has been expected for some time, with confirmation only delayed until his Villa contract expired. But in May it was reported that he isn’t arriving to settle as a back-up and had told friends that it is his plan to ‘push hard’ to compete to be number one.