Pierluigi Gollini: Aston Villa loan out Italian goalkeeper to Atalanta
Aston Villa have allowed goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini to return to Italy by loaning him to Serie A side Atalanta on an 18-month deal.
The former Manchester United reserve was a Roberto di Matteo signing this summer when he arrived from Italian second-tier side Hellas Verona for £4m.
"It came out of the blue last night," Villa boss Steve Bruce told BBC WM.
"We agreed a deal and it was done in a couple of hours and he's now gone off to Atalanta."
Gollini, 21, initially kept his place when Bruce succeeded di Matteo as Villa boss in October. But, after letting in 19 goals in his 20 Championship games, he was dropped following the 1-0 defeat at Norwich on 13 December.
Mark Bunn then took over between the sticks for four games prior to the arrival of on-loan United keeper Sam Johnstone, who made his debut in Saturday's 2-0 FA Cup third-round exit at Tottenham.
Bruce added: "It's fair to say that once I'd left him out and I'd brought in another keeper, what was the next step for Pier?
"It was a little bit too early at this stage of his career to come to Villa. He still needs to learn his trade. It's a good thing he's out there playing again. Ideally it would have been in this country, but we still own him and we'll keep monitoring his progress."
Atalanta are sixth in Serie A, 10 points behind leaders Juventus.