An update has emerged on Aston Villa’s pursuit of Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse…
According to the Birmingham Mail, Aston Villa have decided to withdraw their interest in Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse. The English midfielder was reportedly a top target for Dean Smith and was said to be keen on a switch to Villa Park.
However, the Midlands club have now taken their name out of the hat and are seemingly pursuing other targets, with the report stating that Villa are keen on signing a number 10.
Villa boss Dean Smith will be furious with the board following this latest update. The club have clearly decided to stop tracking the midfielder and will now look at alternatives, which will come as a blow to Smith’s plans as the English coach identified Ward-Prowse as a key target.
It is easy to see why Smith would like him at Villa Park. Ward-Prowse averaged a phenomenal WhoScored rating of 7.07 in the Premier League for the Saints last season. The 26-year-old provided eight goals and seven assists from midfield, whilst also making 3.1 tackles and interceptions per game. This shows that he has an impact at both ends of the pitch and is able to maintain a consistently high standard of performances, which could make him a great asset for Villa.
Ward-Prowse was named Southampton’s Player of the Season earlier this year and his manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl, lavished praise on the “outstanding” midfield enforcer.
He told the Daily Echo:
“It’s not surprising for me, a player who played every minute this season is unbelievable.
“His physicality and his performances are outstanding. That’s our captain on the pitch and he is on the way that he is a very important player for this club for the long term, I think.”
The £75k-per-week maestro, therefore, has proven himself at Premier League level and shown that he can be consistent over the course of a season. This means that he would arrive at Villa as less of a gamble in comparison to a player potentially coming from abroad who has never experienced English football.
John McGinn was Villa’s highest-rated central midfielder on WhoScored last season. He achieved a score of 6.88, which is lower than the 7.07 Ward-Prowse managed
This suggests that the Southampton man would be a sizable improvement on Villa’s current options in the middle of the park, which is another reason why Smith will be livid that Villa were unable to get a deal done.