Aston Villa are undergoing a transformation under the guidance of Unai Emery, who assumed the role of head coach in October and has since steered the team away from dangerous territory in the Premier League, with sights firmly set on a top-half finish.
With some acquisitions already clinched and further activity likely to continue as the club search for a new winger, the central positions have yet to be enhanced, but reports have stated that a bid for Villarreal playmaker Dani Parejo could be forthcoming.
According to Birmingham Live (relaying information from Spanish media), Emery is searching for a reunion with one of his most beloved players once again, with an offer currently being prepared to match the Yellow Submarine’s €12m (£10m) asking price.
With the 33-year-old firmly on Johan Lange’s radar at Villa, signing him could represent a new-found sense of control in midfield, consequently bolstering the collective efforts of the entire team. For the fee quoted, it would perhaps be a prudent move for a footballer brimming with elegance, grace and footballing intellect, one who has already plied his trade under Emery at two clubs.
During their mutual time at Villarreal, Parejo set up Gerard Moreno’s goal in the 2021 Europa League final triumph over Manchester United as the Yellow Submarine won on penalties, with Emery clinching his fourth Europa League trophy in the process.
As per FBref, the former Valencia maestro still ranks within the top 9% of midfielders for rate of assists across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year, but it is the comparison to Toni Kroos which could most entice the Villa faithful.
Indeed, with the Real Madrid stalwart a stylistically comparable player to Parejo, Emery would be wise to try and mirror the commendable feats of the five-time Champions League winner by luring the Villarreal ace to Villa Park, with Parejo dictating the play and instigating promising manoeuvres from the heart of midfield.
As per Whoscored, since the 2009/10 campaign, Parejo has recorded an average pass success rate of 86.6%, chalking up 72 goals and 79 assists. In the same period, Kroos has racked up 57 goals, 119 assists and a supreme average passing accuracy of 91.6%.
Speaking to The Athletic, Gary Neville – who once managed Parejo at Valencia during an infamous stint at the Mestalla – said that the Spaniard was a world-class player with his technical ability, waxing lyrical over his attributes.
The former Manchester United defender said: “He’s an exceptional player. Dani is the type of player who could play for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City or could have played for Luis Enrique at Barcelona… he could play in a Pep Guardiola team – he’s that good.”
For a distinguished midfield force who “oozes class” – as remarked by journalist Josh Bunting – there seems little doubt that Parejo would bolster the Villa side, providing an added creative dimension from the middle of the park and injecting some high-level experience which could prove to be the difference in the pursuit of a top-half finish, perhaps evening wedging into a coveted European qualification berth.