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Aston Villa: Mikel Merino could be their next Fabian Delph

Aston Villa have endured a tumultuous time in midfield this season, with Steven Gerrard seemingly unsure as to who he truly trusted with the starting spots.

Stripping Tyrone Mings of the captaincy and instating John McGinn marked a sole show of faith for the old guard as he looked to place him beside one of Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz.

This struggle for consistency likely fed into the rumours linking the Brazilian with a move away, with deadline day moves scuppered only for him to sign a new contract in October.

However, it now seems that Unai Emery is keen to add another face to that mix, as rumours just last week persist linking the Villans with a move for Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Merino.

The Spaniard would add a wealth of talent to an already stacked midfield, but crucially, he would provide creativity and goalscoring seldom seen since the exit of Fabian Delph.

Many will remember the Leeds United academy graduate as a solid if not unspectacular option for Manchester City and Everton, with a career ravaged by injuries.

However, before his big-money move to the Cityzens, he was a powerful box-to-box force for the Midlands outfit.

In his final season at Villa Park, he would score twice and assist five times, with his combinations with Christian Benteke likely to go down in Premier League folklore.

Now, in Merino, they could actually have a similar if upgraded presence.

This season the 26-year-old already has two goals and six assists from the engine room, looking to improve upon his four-goal and four-assist campaign last year.

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His exploits for Real Sociedad have led to the ultimate praise from his coach Imanol Alguacil, as he claimed: “Mikel Merino is the best player in La Liga.” 

This has culminated in an average Sofascore rating of 7.24, with the former Newcastle United maestro boasting the second-best rating of any of his teammates.

His apparent consistency and capability to push forward will leave Villa fans reminiscing about the impressive performances of Delph, but should Emery pull off this deal they will quickly forget them in favour of the new man in town.