Aston Villa boss Dean Smith is eyeing a move for Southampton and England midfielder James Ward-Prowse in the summer transfer window.
After tying up a deal for Norwich City star Emi Buendia recently, fending off competition from Premier League rivals Arsenal in the process, it appears Villa are keen on getting their transfer business done early.
According to The Guardian, Smith is keen on making a move for Ward-Prowse, and that would tie in with what the Villa boss recently had to say about the club’s transfer plans.
He said: “In terms of our recruitment, we talk about the sweet spots that we’re looking for, which is that the players have Premier League experience and are (ideally) British because there is no adaptation risk at all.”
Dubbed a “machine” by his teammates at St Mary’s, the £27m-rated star enjoyed a superb campaign in the Premier League last season, netting eight goals and providing a further seven assists in the top-flight alone – including scoring twice and setting up another in that thrilling 4-3 win over Villa back in November.
At just 26, Ward-Prowse is another young leader and captain like Jack Grealish is, and that kind of combination of youth and experience should have Smith absolutely raving, just like Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl.
Speaking about Ward-Prowse’s influence, he said: “You have to walk out there and always be the role model of what we are standing for. When you see him running and him fighting for everything in every game then this is what a captain should do.
“Not speaking in the dressing room or telling people how it works, but showing it on the pitch how it works. For me, this is how a captain should be.”
Ward-Prowse’s set-pieces are a thing of beauty, with Pep Guardiola even calling him the best free-kick taker he’s ever seen. And, after watching him produce an impressive display against his side, Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was equally effusive in his praise.
He said: “We played some fantastic football and created so many chances. We must have had five or six clear-cut opportunities but they had Ward-Prowse! You can’t stop him.
“It’s just one of them where you hope you don’t give set-pieces away. He’s got the quality and it’s one of them, you can’t blame anyone.”
Given his leadership and ability to score goals and to create them, Ward-Prowse seems like the perfect next signing for Villa after the capture of Emi Buendia.