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Aston Villa could sign new Mellberg in Harry Maguire

Aston Villa are placing the blocks to solidify the club’s position in the Premier League since the appointment of distinguished head coach Unai Emery in October, and are now scouring the market for top-class talent to deploy into the fold and rally for European endeavours under their manager’s tutelage.

And despite the marked improvement over the five league fixtures with Emery in charge – three wins, one draw, and one defeat – there are still floating question marks around several departments of the field.

Recently speaking on talkSPORT, England legend Stuart Pearce proclaimed that Manchester United’s Harry Maguire needs to consider departing the Theatre of Dreams in search of pastures new, with manager Erik ten Hag seemingly designating him a utility role within his system.

Pearce said: “If I was West Ham, if I was Newcastle, if I was Aston Villa, I’d be all over trying to get Harry Maguire out of there.

“I’d be asking the question whether he’s available. He’d be a brilliant addition to a football club. He’s the right age, the right stature, right experience.

“He might just need another challenge now as he’s not getting regular football.”

Next Mellberg…

Signing for the Red Devils in a world-record £80m move, Maguire has had a tumultuous journey at Old Trafford, often the scapegoat for the club’s lacklustre performances and ushered out of the starting spotlight by Ten Hag, starting only three league matches this term.

Despite this, the 29-year-old’s exploits for England at the 2022 World Cup are evidence enough that the colossus can make a notable mark at any team he plays for, with Sofascore recording his average rating at an excellent 7.34, integral in the structure and flow of his nation’s efforts.

Should Villa instigate a transfer, he could emulate the feats of beloved Villan Olof Mellberg, who signed for the Midlands outfit in a £5m move from Racing Santander in 2001.

Supporters of Aston Villa will always hold a warm place in their hearts for Mellberg, their Scandinavian sensation at the back that played a pivotal role in establishing the outfit as a top competitor in the Premier League two decades ago; he made 263 appearances and was pivotal in securing a sixth-placed finish in the 2003/04 campaign.

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Like Maguire, the defensive stalwart was very much an aggressive centre-half, one that used his immense physicality to brush attackers to one side. A sensation in the air, the Swede won three aerial duels per game in the latter stages of his career, with there certainly plenty of parallels to be drawn with the United centre-half who has won 3.3 aerial battles per match in his career.

The £190k-per-week Maguire knows a thing or two about playing for a high-level outfit, and could be the shining light in the club’s pursuit of European endeavours once again, acting as a leader and no-nonsense defender to pave the way to green pastures, much like Mellberg.

Ex-teammate Paul Pogba once joked that he called Maguire “the beast“, in a favourable remark to his imposing demeanour on the pitch and physicality; he must bring these attributes to Aston Villa, it is a match made in heaven for both player and club.