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Aston Villa: Isco could be Emery’s own Valverde

Aston Villa may have been dealt a boost in their pursuit of Spanish attacking midfielder Isco, with the 38-cap star being surprisingly released by La Liga outfit Sevilla this week.

Unai Emery’s side have been linked with a move for the former Real Madrid player and could now go in for the 30-year-old on a free transfer, which would represent excellent business for the Premier League club.

He made just 19 appearances for Sevilla across all competitions this season, scoring only one goal, and he hasn’t exactly had the best of times recently.

Villa are struggling for any sort of creative output in their team, with Philippe Coutinho contributing zero goals or assists in the current campaign, and Isco may well be a no-cost upgrade on the Brazilian for the second half of the season.

Isco is statistically similar to Real Madrid sensation Federico Valverde, who has become one of his club’s most impressive players. Indeed, WhoScored rank the 24-year-old as Los Blancos’ fourth-best performer this season, with the Uruguayan scoring six goals and registering two assists.

Valverde is the second-most comparable player to Isco via FBref’s similar player model and it shows that even though the Spaniard has had a season to forget, being compared to one of the most exciting talents in La Liga is no mean feat.

The two players have registered quite similar metrics in 2022/23 when it comes to assists (both two), pass success rate (83% to 88%, Isco first), shot-creating actions per match (3.49 to 3.17) and tackles won (nine to eight).

The players also have similar numbers when it comes to key passes per match (1.7 to 1.4, Valverde first) and successful dribbles (64% to 55%). Meanwhile, Isco ranks in the top 5% of all players across Europe’s big leagues for pass completion rate and interceptions made, clearly proving that he can contribute heavily at both ends of the pitch.

Legendary Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta even dubbed his former international team-mate as an “incredible footballer” back in 2017, and although the 30-year-old has slightly lost his way recently, signing him on a free transfer would represent a huge coup for Emery and Villa heading into 2023.

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