Aston Villa are creeping towards a stature that head coach Unai Emery will be satisfied with following his arrival in October, and could complete the jigsaw with a successful January bid for Olympique Marseille’s Matteo Guendouzi…
According to a report from 90min earlier this month, the Villans had registered an interest in the former Arsenal star, but the Midlands outfit would be expected to part with a sum in the region of €50m (£44m) to secure his signature.
More recently, according to journalist Dan Bardell, Villa are expected to make an official transfer bid for the player, with Guendouzi deemed to be the perfect star to shape the club’s fortunes and dictate from the centre as Villa seek a top-half Premier League finish.
Speaking on Sky Sports, he said: “From my understanding, it sounds like Marseille have a suspicion that a bid is coming.
“So hopefully over the next few days – because I know Villa fans are keen for this one – there’ll be that concrete offer from Villa, because he’s a player that’s worked with Emery before. You get the sense now that Emery’s very much in charge of everything at Villa now, he has the final say on everything, he’s in control, and Guendouzi’s someone who would fit in very nicely into that hybrid wide/central midfielder role.”
While Emery has found much success on the transfer front this month, clinching deals for Alex Moreno and Jhon Duran and reportedly looking to complete the signing of Gerard Deulofeu, the addition of a central midfielder of first-rate quality would go a long way towards continuing the fantastic form that has seen Aston Villa clinch victory across five of the seven league matches with the Spaniard at the wheel.
And with Guendouzi indeed flourishing out in France, the dynamism and intensity that he would instil from the centre of the Villa Park midfield would go a long way toward riding a vein of form that could be maintained, among the prominent outfits of the English top-flight.
This season in Ligue 1, the 23-year-old has averaged 1.2 tackles and 0.9 intersections per outing, also completing 0.8 key passes per match in a bid to serve from multiple areas of expertise, consequently chalking up an average rating of 6.93, as per Sofascore.
As per FBref, Guendouzi ranks among the top 20% of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for rate of assists, the top 12% for progressive passes received and the top 13% for touches in the attacking penalty area, which would provide a layer of creativity on top of his defence and deep-lying presence.
With this in mind, it appears a no-brainer that Villa technical director Johan Lange ensures a massive upgrade on Marvelous Nakamba is completed, with the 29-year-old yet to make an appearance for the Claret & Blue this season despite sitting on the bench on multiple occasions.
And with the Zimbabwean midfielder failing to record an average rating of over 6.63 across any completion while in Villa colours, his departure would continue the upswing that Emery is looking to surge the club into riding.
Indeed, compared to the French midfielder in question, Nakamba ranked in the worst 10% of players in just the Premier League last term for assists, the worst 11% for progressive passes and the very worst percentage for touches.
Bearing this in mind, the “warrior” that is Guendouzi – as dubbed by Robert Pires – is undoubtedly the better fit to ensure that the recent purple patch does not fade away, and Villa’s newfound confidence and swagger can be maintained over the coming campaigns, perhaps returning the club to a position in-and-around European contention.