Aston Villa are in the mix for a top-class winger to bolster the ambitious plans under the management of Unai Emery, and the Spaniard has reportedly distinguished several options to aid his outfit in their endeavours this season.
Villa have seen a valuable upswing in their form since Emery arrived in October to replace the dismissed Steven Gerrard, with the Claret & Blue now having won four of their six Premier League fixtures under the 51-year-old – preceded by a thumping 4-0 victory over Brentford in the interim.
And during the ongoing winter transfer market, onus has been firmly fixed on bolstering the squad with signings of apt quality, indeed with left-back Alex Moreno and promising offensive starlet Jhon Duran already arriving in the Midlands.
With at least one more acquisition expected before the window’s culmination, the centre of the park and the offensive flanks have both been highlighted as key areas for investment, and Udinese winger and Emery favourite Gerard Deulofeu has been identified as the man to arrive and make an instant impact, according to reports on the prospective move.
Deulofeu played a successful season under Emery at Sevilla in 2014/15, with the Spanish ace flourishing under the wing of his compatriot, making 28 appearances and scoring three goals, notably notching up ten assists and starring en route to triumphing in the Europa League.
His inclusion into the Premier League competitors’ ranks would certainly provide an added sheen of creativity, with the former Watford maestro ranking among the top 5% of positional peers in Europe’s big leagues for assists, the top 1% of shot-creating actions, and the top 1% for progressive passes.
For all of the four-cap star’s guile and ball-playing prowess, it may well be wise for the Villans to delve back into the market for a previous target: Ismaila Sarr – a wily winger that Villa failed to acquire in the summer despite agreeing to a £25m fee with the Hornets for one of their most valuable assets.
Since his arrival in English football in 2019, the “electric” gem – as dubbed by journalist Rob Blanchette – has plundered 31 goals and 22 assists from 114 appearances, starring as one of Watford’s most coveted forward forces.
And this season, the “unbelievable” talent – in the words of ex-teammate Troy Deeney – has scored seven goals and four assists as Watford look to earn instant promotion from the Championship following their relegation last year.
With his dynamic skills, blistering pace and imposing stature down the flanks, he would be a far more robust avenue to go down for Villa; ranking among the top 19% of wingers and attacking midfielders across Men’s Next 8 divisions for rate of non-penalty goals.
With the likes of Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia already assuming primary roles as creative playmakers under Emery’s leadership, a more direct presence in Sarr might be a prudent move – and having already previously succeeded with negotiations, the road to re-establish talks might not be too strenuous.
Bearing this in mind, Villa Park’s technical director Johan Lange must forge a deal for Sarr; while Deulofeu is indeed in active discussions with the cub for a forthcoming transfer, Sarr’s versatility and knack for racking up goals with a menacing direct would be a sublime piece of business to add to an auspicious-looking outfit starting to offer glimpses of further success.