Aston Villa boss Dean Smith is eyeing a summer swoop for Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu.
Reports in recent weeks have suggested that the Premier League side are keen on Romeu’s Saints teammate, James Ward-Prowse, but it appears Smith also has his sights set on the Spaniard too.
According to The Telegraph, Villa have identified the holding midfield area as something they need to strengthen this summer, and that Romeu now figures on their target list.
The report adds that Southampton are reluctant to make a sale, so that deal could be difficult to do.
With Marvelous Nakamba, John McGinn and Douglas Luiz the central midfield options that Smith really relied upon last season, Villa could really do with someone who can be the ‘destroyer’, breaking things up before playing the simple passes.
And in Romeu, they could get exactly that.
As per Whoscored, the 29-year-old averaged a mammoth 3.3 tackles per game in the Premier League last season, which actually ranked him third in the entire division, with only Leicester’s Wilfried Ndidi and Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell making more.
Romeu also averaged an impressive 1.4 interceptions too, so clearly has the ability to read the game rather than being someone who just lunges in for challenges to try and win the ball back – Nakamba is the closest Villa player to the Spaniard, managing just 1.7 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per match.
And it’s safe to say his manager at Southampton, Ralph Hasenhuttl, has been suitably impressed.
He said: “I have never seen a professional like him before in my entire managing career. He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve ever seen.
“When you see him as a professional, how he reacts when he’s not first choice, it’s unbelievable. He’s always the first on the pitch, always hard working. I think for this, they love him here.”
The £8.5m-rated beast’s defensive tenacity would add something that Villa’s midfield currently lacks.