According to La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Football Italia), Emery’s wish for a new winger could soon be granted, with the 51-year-old close to acquiring the signature of Gerard Deulofeu from Udinese.
Having not played since the resumption of club football following the 2022 World Cup, the 28-year-old was expected to feature for the Bianconeri, and he is reportedly approaching the closing stages of negotiations for a transfer to Aston Villa to reunite with Emery, under whom he played at Sevilla.
The Spaniard has been on the Premier League club’s radar since the arrival of the former Arsenal boss, with the Daily Mail stating that the fleet-footed phenomenon – once of Everton and Watford – is near the top of Villa’s winter shopping list.
With Emery having won four of his six Premier League outings in charge of Villa far, defeating the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, and losing only to Liverpool, performances on the pitch already offer an indication of the upward trajectory of the club, and signings of his choosing should only further the cause for optimism.
The Villa Park faithful will hope that that is an omen of things to come, with the 1982 European champions desperate to return to their former glories. With four-time Europa League winner Emery – at the helm, there could be a possibility of making waves on the continent again further down the line.
Deulofeu can be a worthy integrant in the team, providing creative ingenuity from out wide and using his football intellect to cut in and seek goals of his own when the opportunity arises.
At Udinese, the 28-year-old has scored 18 goals and delivered 14 assists since his arrival at the beginning of 2020/21, with his current season’s tally of three goals and seven assists likely to appeal to Emery, especially given the recent £18m signing of rising star Jhon Duran.
As per FBref, the four-cap Spaniard ranks among the top 1% of positional peers for shot-creating actions and progressive passes, the top 5% for assists and the top 9% for dribbles completed among positional peers in Europe’s big five leagues over the past 12 months.
He would be a sterling signing for the Midlands club, being a “genius” with the ball at his feet (as lauded by BBC journalist Phil McNulty) and “outstanding” (Roberto Martinez) with the level of his all-round performances on the pitch.
As such, the acquisition of a winger to rekindle their clinical edge could be crucial to any future success for Villa as they look to bolster their squad. If they can marry that with Emery and Deulofeu’s previous shared success in winning the Europa League, there is every chance that the claret and blue faithful could be about to welcome an ‘outstanding’ new hero, should the 28-year-old return to England.