Aston Villa have already wrapped up five major signings so far this summer, although the indication is that sporting director Johan Lange is not done just yet, with the addition of a striker and a midfielder still on the agenda.
In the case of the latter position, the Midlands club have already brought in Boubacar Kamara from Marseille on a free transfer, although a further midfield recruit is still in the offing. They notably missed out on both Kalvin Phillips and Yves Bissouma, who have joined Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur respectively.
All is not lost, though, with another target having been identified who can potentially fill the void – recent reports suggest that PSV Eindhoven star Ibrahim Sangare is of interest to the powerbrokers at Villa Park.
The 24-year-old – who has been dubbed “very complete” by former Toulouse boss Alain Casanova – has sparkled for the Eredivisie outfit in recent times, notably catching the eye in his team’s Europa Conference League clash against Leicester City last season.
That encounter – which manager Steven Gerrard is believed to have attended on a scouting mission – saw former Ajax and PSV manager Aad de Mos claim that the 17-cap titan is “better on one leg” than the entire Foxes midfield.
Rumoured to cost in the region of ‘just’ €35m (£30m), the 6 foot 3 ace could well prove an astute capture for the Villans this summer, with the Premier League side arguably in need of an imposing presence in the middle of the park.
Sangare would certainly offer that, as he notably averaged 3.3 tackles, 2.6 interceptions and one clearance per game from his 29 league appearances last term, winning a remarkable 74% of his aerial duels and a solid 63% of his total duels.
Clearly a commanding midfield figure, there is a clear likeness to that of compatriot Yaya Toure, with African journalist Alpha Balde previously comparing the PSV man to the now-retired colossus.
That assessment will have piqued the interest of those back at Villa Park, with Gerrard likely set to be enthralled at the idea of having a Toure-like figure in his midfield this season, having seen first-hand the damage that the 39-year-old could inflict in his pomp.
At 6 foot 2, the former Manchester City man was also something of a midfield powerhouse, combining brute strength and power with an innate elegance which earmarked him as one of the most imperious players in his position in English football for a time.
Having first gained wider attention as a defensive-minded asset at Barcelona, the 97-cap machine blossomed into a more creative, dangerous threat during his eight-year stint at the Etihad Stadium. He developed club legend status after chipping in with 63 goals and 32 assists in 230 league games for City, including a remarkable haul of 20 top-flight goals and nine assists during the title-winning 2013/14 campaign.
Unlike the three-time Premier League title winner, Sangare may not have made such an impact in the final third in his career thus far, with just seven club goals to date. However, if he is unleashed under Gerrard, he could well develop into an impressive attacking force.
Even if that element of his game may not quite be at its strongest, the £27k-per-week gem still offers that Toure-esque dominance in midfield, with few opposition players likely to relish coming up against such an elite, physical specimen.
Toure had looked to be something of a unique player when at his best, hence the undoubted excitement that Villa could land his potential heir.