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Aston Villa could land Coutinho upgrade in Kang-In Lee

The January transfer window is well underway and Aston Villa made their first addition of the month earlier this week by bringing in Alex Moreno from Real Betis.

Unai Emery swooped to sign the left-back from LaLiga, where he managed Villarreal earlier this season, and the Spanish head coach could look to make further additions before the window slams shut.

He has enjoyed a terrific start to life in the dugout at Villa Park by winning four of his first six Premier League matches in charge of the club but that may not stop him from attempting to bolster his squad.

Spanish outlet MARCA reported, earlier this month, that Villa are one of a number of teams interested in signing midfielder Kang-In Lee from Mallorca.

Newcastle United, Burnley, and Dutch giants Feyenoord are also said to be eyeing up a deal for the South Korean gem, who has a release clause of €17m (£15m) in his contract.

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The report claimed that money would not be an issue for the Magpies or the Villans in this particular transfer chase and this indicates that Lee is a realistic target for the club to pursue in the next couple of weeks.

Emery must now complete a deal to sign the LaLiga ace as the 21-year-old gem has the potential to be a big upgrade on current Villa midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazilian international joined the club on a permanent basis last summer and has struggled to find his best form in the Premier League so far this season.

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Coutinho has failed to produce a single goal or assist in 16 top-flight appearances for Villa.

He has created 0.4 chances per game and averaged a disappointing Sofascore rating of 6.61, which suggests that he is contributing very little to the side in terms of his general displays and his end product in the final third.

Kang-In Lee, meanwhile, has averaged a Sofascore rating of 7.05 across 17 outings in the Spanish top-flight for Mallorca. The 21-year-old has chipped in with two goals and three assists from midfield, whilst creating 1.6 chances per match and eight ‘big chances’ in total for his teammates.

These statistics indicate that the South Korean international, who assisted one goal in one start at the World Cup in Qatar, would be a big upgrade on Coutinho at the top end of the pitch. The gem could offer more of a threat in front of goal whilst being considerably more creative in his passing.

Valencia academy director Luis Vicente Mateo once hailed him as an “outstanding” talent and late South Korea legend Yoo Sang-chul once claimed that the dynamo “absorbs knowledge like a sponge” – indicating that he is open to learning and developing under Emery’s coaching.

Lee is also nine years younger than the Brazilian and could, therefore, offer more to Villa in the long term, which is another reason why Emery must push to get this £15m deal over the line.