Aston Villa have had a rollercoaster season already due to a brush with the relegation zone and a change of hands at the top of the club with Unai Emery replacing Steven Gerrard back in November and the new manager is wasting no time in getting his feet under the table at Villa Park.
The club are expected to imminently announce the signing of Real Betis left-back Alex Moreno and Emery is reportedly still keen to make even more signings this month as he endeavours to make his own mark on the squad and improve performances on the pitch.
Despite an improvement in the Premier League and a comfortable league position of 11th ahead of their clash with Leeds United on Friday, the former Arsenal boss has already been subject to a double knock-out in his first seven games in charge after being beaten in the FA Cup by Manchester United and last weekend lost out on progression in the Carabao Cup when League Two side Stevenage caused an upset for the ages at Villa Park.
Emery’s rotation of his top-flight first-teamers seems to have been a probable cause for the most recent humiliation making eight changes to the team drew with Wolverhampton Wanderers, proving that the squad depth at the club is in need of an overhaul as the drop-off in quality is an underlying issue.
One player who has recently been linked with a move to the Midlands club this month is Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie, one of the stand-out performers at the World Cup in Qatar last month when representing USMNT, and journalist Dean Jones gave an insight to GIVEMESPORT about the potential transfer:
“Weston McKennie is one of the more interesting names that’s going to appear in headlines over the course of this month because Juventus are open-minded about losing him.
“I do think that Aston Villa would have an edge over Bournemouth in terms of a transfer like this because I think we have to understand that McKennie has very high expectations of where his career can get to.”
The 24-year-old ace – who was dubbed a “trailblazer” by Alex Chaffer – ranks in the top 20% of his positional peers across the top five European leagues for non-penalty goals, touches, progressive passes received and blocks, proving himself to be an impressive all-round asset.
As such, Emery could land a huge upgrade on Leander Dendoncker, someone who has underperformed following his move across the Midlands from Wolves. Indeed, the Belgian was sent off for an ugly and clumsy tackle late on against Stevenage, ultimately giving away a penalty as the Villans were dumped out of the FA Cup.
Extra quality is certainly needed, therefore, and in McKennie they’d no doubt find it. The American is outperforming Dendoncker in many attributes this term including goal contributions (2 v 0), shot-creating actions (15 v 11), tackles on dribblers completed (62.5% v 60%), blocks (13 v 11), dribbles completed (71.4% v 40%), progressive passes (24 v 7) and ball recoveries (40 v 35).
It is clear from the comparison of the two midfielder’s outputs that the American talent could be a valuable asset to Emery in his pursuit of strengthening and adding better depth to his midfield personnel.
With that being said, it will cost Villa a reported €30m (£26m) to acquire the services of McKennie but it would undeniably be money well spent if he proves an upgrade.