Steve Bruce explains his decision to allow Pierluigi Gollini to leave Aston Villa

Aston Villa's Pierluigi Gollini looks dejected after Huddersfield's first goal

Gollini has joined Serie A side Atalanta until the end of next season just seven months after moving to England.

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce has explained the rationale behind allowing summer signing goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini to return to Italy on an 18-month loan deal, as quoted on the club's official website.

Gollini joined Villa for around £4 million from Hellas Verona and was initially the club's number one under former boss Roberto di Matteo.

However, the 21-year-old has not played for Villa since the 1-0 defeat at Norwich City in mid-December, with Mark Bunn instead being preferred.

Gollini then slipped even further down the pecking order as Bruce brought in Manchester United stopper Sam Johnstone on loan.

Aston Villa's Pierluigi Gollini looks dejected after Huddersfield's first goal

That led to speculation that Gollini would be allowed to depart Villa Park on a temporary basis until the end of the season.

In a slightly surprising move, though, Villa have sanctioned the youngster's departure on a longer-term basis, allowing him to join Atalanta on a deal which only expires in the summer of 2018.

Speaking to reporters ahead of this weekend's clash with Wolves, Bruce explained the reasoning behind granting Gollini a long-term, if still only temporary, exit.

Bruce said, via the club's website: "Late last night we agreed a deal. It was out of the blue. It was one of those ones that was done in a couple of hours I think. He’s gone off to Atalanta on an 18-month loan deal.

Aston Villa's Pierluigi Gollini

"I think it’s fair to say, once I’d left him out of the team and once we’d brought in a new goalkeeper, then what was the next step for Pier? For me, he needs to go and play and learn his trade. I think it was a little bit too early for Pier, at this stage of his career, to come to Villa.

"In this respect, we’ve still got him here, he’s still our player. It’s a good thing for everybody that he’s back playing again. Ideally I’d have liked it to have been in this country. However, we wish him the best of luck and we’ll keep monitoring his progress."

It is certainly interesting of Bruce to suggest that Gollini was not yet ready to be playing every week for Villa. Those are comments that perhaps speak to the failure of Di Matteo in identifying Gollini as a goalkeeper ready to become number one immediately.

However, Bruce seemed to suggest that Villa still see Gollini as potentially part of their long-term future, although it seems it will be the 2018-19 season before Villa fans see the Italian again, if at all.

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