Aston Villa manager Unai Emery is reportedly set to move for Angers SCO’s Moroccan World Cup phenom Azzedine Ounahi, with the burgeoning midfielder subject to a long line of interested suitors following his exploits in Qatar…
Emery is enforcing a scope of changes around Villa Park since arriving in October, both on and off the pitch, and after bolstering the defensive and offensive ranks with the likes of Alex Moreno from Real Betis and Jhon Duran from Colorado Rapids, could now shift attention to the centre of the park.
According to Italian journalist Ciro Venerato (via Sport Witness), Villa are indeed eyeing a swoop for one of the 2022 World Cup’s rising stars.
He said: “These are decisive days for the Moroccan midfielder. The president of Angers left for England yesterday [Monday] and it seems that he is talking to Aston Villa who received a no from the Juventus player, McKennie, two days ago, more than Leeds.”
With the Midlands outfit starting to take shape under their sagely Spaniard boss, Ounahi, who could be sold for around €25m (£22m), would bring creativity and assurance to the midfield, instilling fluidity and perhaps merging into one of the division’s most lauded playmakers.
Ounahi has made 48 appearances for his side, scoring two goals and two assists apiece, and has impressed with his ball-playing skills and gliding aura with the ball at his feet.
This season, the 17-cap star has chalked up 15 appearances for his ailing outfit, with Angers indeed bottom of Ligue 1 and on a dreadful run of form, having lost 11 successive matches in the division.
As per Sofascore, Ounahi has averaged 1.5 shots and 1.1 key passes per match in the league this season, knitting his side together with an 88% pass success rate while chipping in with 1.3 tackles and one interception per outing. As such, he has been paramount in preventing his beleaguered side from falling to deeper misfortune.
And with the 22-year-old ranking within the top 1% of midfielders for dribbles completed, the top 7% for touches in the attacking penalty area, and the top 4% for progressive passes received over the past year, as per FBref, he would bring an offensive sheen to Villa Park that could aid the club in the pursuit of brighter fortunes over the coming seasons.
Per FBRef, Barcelona wonderkid Gavi is among the most comparable players to the “dynamic” gem – as dubbed by talent scout Jacek Kulig – with the precocious Spanish teenager emerging as one of the most coveted commodities on the European scene after dazzling for club and country despite his tender age and inexperience.
Those similarities can be seen across a wide array of metrics with the Spanish midfielder totalling up a pass accuracy of 87.6%, 2.72 progressive passers per 90 minutes and 3.80 shot-creating actions over the same amount of time.
For comparison, Ounahi completes 86% of his passes, of which 4.96 per 90 are progressive, on top of 3.42 shot-creating actions. On that evidence, it would appear that both players are comfortable in possession while capable of breaking forward at ease.
As such, Villa would be daft not to throw the kitchen sink at the “protege” that is Ounahi, tying him down to a long-term deal with the club and enhancing their own aspirations in the process.