Players Aston Villa should sign this summer
Updated: Jun 24
Aston Villa come off the back of a very successful first season with Unai Emery at the helm, which saw him take Villa from relegation candidates under Gerrard to European football, while becoming the first Premier League club to score in the first 20 consecutive matches under a new manager as well as Emery being nominated for Manager of the Season. With the huge financial backing of owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, who amass a net worth of $12.4bn, the fourth highest in the Premier League according to Forbes, Villa looks ready to back Emery to kick on from last season and establish themselves as a top Premier League side. They have already made a statement signing in the capture of Youri Tielemans and will be looking to strengthen further.
Despite Ollie Watkins' phenomenal form last season, Villa still looks thin up top, and with the rumoured transfer of Tammy Abraham falling through due to his injury, Villa have made it clear they want to strengthen offensively and Folarin Balogun would be a perfect replacement. He looks set to depart Arsenal after a phenomenal season at Reims on loan, where he scored 21 goals in Ligue 1, joint 4th highest and only 8 behind Mbappe! His reading of the game to get into the right positions was key to his output last season, as most of his goals came from one-touch finishes from a cross or a late through ball by his teammate, where he looked composed when one v one vs a keeper. He is also great from the spot. Of his 21 goals, 6 were penalties and 9 were first-time finishes, of which 4 volleys and 2 headers, he also went around the goalkeeper twice. He also chipped in with 2 assists, where both times a teammate made a run off him, who he played through to, suggesting he would work well in a two-striker formation Emery uses alongside Watkins. His clinical finishing from crosses would work well with the crossing ability of Moreno, Douglas Luiz, McGinn and Bailey. Arsenal are reportedly looking to sell, favouring Nketiah as Jesus's understudy, and is valued at around £25 million, a deal Aston Villa should be exploring.
Another striker that has performed well in Ligue 1 this season is LOSC Lille's Jonathan David, who scored 26 times. His consistent goalscoring ability with both feet has been clear to see, scoring 19 last season and 13 the year before, as well as hitting double figures for previous club Gent. His club form translated into his appearances for Canada, scoring 24 goals in 40 caps. He too is clinical from the spot, converting 10 of his 11 penalties this season. He's a player who has previously been linked with Aston Villa, but due to the high price has never materialised, however, the financial muscle of Villa this window could help them acquire his services, who I believe would settle into the Premier League quickly due to his pace and power. Key to Emery's system of 2 up top is relying on one dropping deeper, which he could fulfil due to his versatility in attacking positions. Although a high price tag of up to £55 million may be demanded, Villa has the ability to be able to fend off competition to lure him to Villa Park next season.
Villa has already exploited the free agent market in acquiring Tielemans, and should use it once again to provide back-up for him, in the form of Oxlade-Chamberlain. The midfielder is set. to be released by Liverpool this summer after 6 years at the club, where he won the Premier League, Champions League, Super Cup, Club World Cup, FA Cup and Carabao Cup, an impressive resume, even if playing a minor part in it. Despite a smaller role in recent seasons, he has played 146 times for Liverpool, scoring 18 times and assisting 15. He would be a great squad player to have, as depth will be crucial to Villa this season as they balance the more congested schedule of the Europa Conference, as well as domestic cups. Therefore a player of his calibre, on a free, will be another piece of shrewd business by Villa and Emery.
The recent arrival of Monchi will be crucial to Villa's business, and alongside Emery, I believe they will identify central defence as a weak position, as a long-term Mings replacement may be desired to pair with Konsa. Therefore Monchi may dip back into his familiar Spanish market for a perfect replacement, a left-footed centre-back who is comfortable on the ball, Pau Torres. He is entering his prime years at 26 and a move to the Premier League would be a deserved next step in his career. He has been a starwalt in the Villereal defence, after progressing through the club's academy, going on to feature 173 times. In this time he won the Europa League and was crucial in them reaching the Champion League semi-final last season, beating Bayern Munich, Juventus and Atalanta along the way. His phenomenal ability on the ball is highlighted by attempting 64.21 passes per 90, which lead to 1.21 shot-creating actions, which ranks him in the top 93 percentile for shot-creating actions of defenders in Europe's top 5 leagues. He ranks as one of Europe's best defenders in take-ons, as he successfully dribbled past a defender 0.77 times per 90, which ranks in the top 97 percentile. His aerial ability would need improving, only winning 1.74 aerial duels per 90, and most notably his interceptions ranks him in the bottom 1 percentile. Aston Villa would have a future-proof defence if they can pair Torres and Konsa, while having great depth in the form of an improved Mings and the return of Diego Carlos. His price tag may be upwards of £ 40 million, but this shouldn't deter Villa, and would be a fantastic signing.
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