It’s already proving a remarkable post-season for Aston Villa, with the Midlands outfit having confirmed three summer signings, with a deal for current loanee Robin Olsen also believed to be in the works.
Plotting a vast improvement on last season’s disappointing 14th place finish, it would appear that NSWE are willing to make a major investment in the playing squad this summer, with manager Steven Gerrard set to get the backing that he had craved at former club Rangers.
Not content with the business done thus far, however, the Englishman is still eyeing further additions as the window progresses, with a left-sided defender, a striker and an additional midfielder believed to be the areas of interest.
The hunt for a new recruit in the centre of the park, in particular, has generated notable interest, albeit with one leading candidate at present that of Brighton and Hove Albion gem Yves Bissouma, with reports suggesting that Villa are eyeing a £30m move for the 25-year-old.
Dubbed a “Champions League level” talent by the Seagulls’ boss, the 18-cap gem is arguably one of the most imposing and impactful midfielders in the game, ranking in the top 14% for interceptions made, the top 13% for tackles and the top 10% for clearances across those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues.
Not just a commanding defensive presence, the £31.5m-rated brute also ranks highly for his quality in possession, ranking in the top 10% for dribbles completed and the top 9% for pass completion, with it no real surprise to have seen him described as a “baller” by one journalist.
His arrival in Gerrard’s squad could also help spark the departure of current regular, Douglas Luiz, with rumours abound that the Brazil international is of interest to Roma boss Jose Mourinho at the Stadio Olimpico.
That report from the Italian press suggests that the 24-year-old is keen on a ‘change of air’ this summer, having been with the Villans for three years since joining from Manchester City on a £15m deal.
Although he has been a first-choice pick ever since, now could prove the ideal time to part ways, particularly following the addition of young Boubacar Kamara and the possible incoming of Bissouma.
Once labelled a “luxury player” by James Chapple, Luiz may not fit the more robust, defensive style that Gerrard is looking for, with his capabilities not suited to the holding midfield role that he had been utilised in during recent times.
His statistics, as per FBref, also make for grim reading, with the one-time Girona man frankly poorly in almost every metric, notably finding himself in just the top 58% for tackles made and the top 71% for clearances made, while his use of the ball has also been surprisingly poor, ranking in just the top 47% for pass completion.
In the 2021/22 campaign, in particular, he squandered possession on average 10.3 times per game and achieved just a 6.89 average match rating, while the Brighton man, by contrast, lost possession just eight times per game and recorded a 7.07 average match rating.