Aston Villa pushed hard to sign Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse in the summer transfer window, and they must now make a renewed attempt to land him in January.
Reports in recent weeks had suggested that Dean Smith’s side were lining up a swoop for the Saints star, but a deal failed to materialise before the deadline.
Football Insider have now claimed that Villa “pushed hard” to sign the England international and that extensive talks were held over a potential deal.
The report added: “Southampton initially placed a £40m valuation on their academy product but would have accepted an initial lower fee. It is believed that the England international was open to moving to Villa and was keen to accelerate talks at one point.
“There was also interest in Ward-Prowse from a top-six Premier League side. His representatives were able to use the bids and high-level interest in their client to negotiate an improved contract last month.”
The £75k-a-week earning ace would offer something that Villa really missed last season – goals from midfield. The Saints star managed eight goals in the Premier League, as well as chipping in with seven assists, numbers which are far better than anything that Smith’s current options produced (John McGinn was the closest with three goals).
Sealing a deal for Ward-Prowse, an England international and a captain of a Premier League rival, would be fantastic business for Villa, and it’s no surprise that it has received a lot of backing from the likes of former Three Lions goalkeeper Paul Robinson.
He said: “He would be a great signing for Aston Villa though and in truth, Villa are moving forward faster than Southampton. They are a bigger club as well.
“If he moved I think it would enhance his international opportunities and for that reason I think it is a move the player will try and push through. Southampton will not want to do business but they are a club that will do business at the right price, of that I’m sure. I think Villa can get the deal through if they are willing to pay.”
As per fbref.com, Ward-Prowse’s passes in the Premier League last season progressed for more than 10,000 yards, a real indication of how he is always looking to move things forward rather than keeping things simple.
That stat ranks him 49th in the entire division for 2020/21, a pretty impressive achievement considering that most of the players above him are goalkeepers and defenders – in terms of midfielders, only Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Ashley Westwood, Rodri and Granit Xhaka exceeded the 26-year-old’s tally.
While they missed out on his signature in the summer, and Ward-Prowse has since put pen to paper on a new contract at St Mary’s, Villa must surely look to test the waters once again in January.