Aston Villa could be ready to back new boss Unai Emery in the January transfer window after the Spaniard took over from Steven Gerrard. The ex-Arsenal man defeated Manchester United 3-1 in his first game in charge at Villa Park before the World Cup break, and will look to build on that victory and steer the Villains into the top half of the table with a squad built in his image.
It is thought that more firepower is wanted up front by Emery, while the new boss could use his connections within Spain to bring proven quality to the club. Gerrard often lined up in a narrow system during his time at the helm, while at Villareal Emery preferred a 4-4-2 shape, and should he wish to continue that formation will need to recruit wide players.
Villa have scored just 16 goals in 15 Premier League games this season, fewer than all but six of their league rivals and shows that more forwards could be brought into the squad. Express Sport brings you the latest Villa transfer news over the Christmas season…
Rivalling Arsenal and Man Utd for Felix
Villa have been linked with the sensational signing of Atletico Madrid and Portugal World Cup star Joao Felix, as the 23-year-old looks set to leave the Spanish giants amid a poor relationship with boss Diego Simeone. Marca have claimed that Emery’s side are “well placed” to sign Felix in January, despite his mammoth price tag of over £100million.
Emery and CEO Christian Purslow face a big task of convincing Felix to join Villa however, as he is also of interest to both Arsenal and United according to reports. Erik ten Hag reportedly wants the Portuguese international as part of a plan to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, while Mikel Arteta could be tempted to sign Felix as part of cover for Gabriel Jesus’ injury.
Spanish outlet Cadena Ser claims that Villa are “making a huge effort” to sign Felix however, who could transform their attack under Emery. Agent Jorge Mendes, who played a big role in bringing Emery to the club in October, also represents Felix as the forward looks set to leave.
Atleti chief Miguel Angel Gil Marin earlier this month admitted that Felix is likely to exit the club. “Felix is the biggest bet this club has taken in its history,” Marin said. “I personally think he’s a top talent, a world-class player.
“For reasons it isn’t worth getting into – the relationship between him and the boss, the minutes played, his motivation right now – it makes you think that the reasonable thing is that if there’s an option that’s good for the player, good for the club, we can look at it. I’d love him to stay personally, but I don’t think that’s the player’s idea.”
Cunha looks set to move to Midlands rivals Wolves instead, but Thuram could be available for as little as £10m as his contract expires in the summer. The forward came on in the World Cup final as a substitute but soon could be lighting up the pitch at Villa Park.
Whether Emery will look to bring any players from Villareal with him remains to be seen, but Senegal international Nicolas Jackson has been a name mooted with a potential Emery reunion. He has a £27m release clause in his contract, and the winger could be an alternative to Thuram after breaking into the Yellow Submarines’ side under Emery last season.