After a strong finish to 2022/23, Aston Villa are preparing for their first season in Europe since 2010. With Unai Emery’s European pedigree, the Villains will hope to emulate West Ham’s success and win the European Conference League. On top of that, there is the balance of competing in the Premier League, with Villa looking to finish even higher than they did last season.
Success on all fronts will only be possible with a deeper squad and so far this summer the club have made a number of moves to make that happen. Quality additions have been added to areas of the squad with the arrivals of Pau Torres, Youri Tielemans and Moussa Diaby.
However, with outgoings still necessary and the recent long-term injury to Emi Buendia, it seems the Villa hierarchy will still be active right up until the end of this summer transfer window.
Here are some of the players new sporting director Monchi and Emery are targeting as they look to put the finishing touches on their squad for this season.
In recent days and weeks, Marcos Alonso has become one of the main Aston Villa transfer targets. This 32-year-old left-back currently plays for Barcelona, and he is also a regular pick for the Spanish international squad. Adding to that, Alonso is experienced with the Premier League having played for Chelsea between 2016 and 2022. This is a major positive as it means that he wouldn’t need to change or adapt to Premier League football, so he would slot right in with the current Aston Villa team if signed. Yet this isn’t the real appeal of bringing Marcos Alonso to Aston Villa.
The real attraction is that he has the ability to push forward when needed too, which adds an attacking dynamic down the left flank when he is on the pitch. If there were any doubts surrounding this, you needn’t look much beyond his statistics when playing at Chelsea. Across all competitions, Alonso managed to rack up 23 assists and 29 goals, and he played pivotal roles in major games too. This is especially true regarding Chelsea’s Champions League winning campaign in 2020/2021.
With this in mind, Alonso is certainly a player who can be brought in over the coming days too. At 32 years of age, he could become one of those bargain deals when compared with other Aston Villa transfer targets. Specifically, his market value is reportedly less than €5 million, so Villa wouldn’t need to dig overly deep to sign Alonso. Therefore, all of the essentials seem to line up nicely for such a move.
Aston Villa is doing okay in the attacking department, yet they do need major improvements in defence if they are to challenge for European football this season. This knowledge has no doubt prompted the approach for Nuno Tavares, who is a 23-year-old defender who currently plays for Arsenal. As for why he is a key player with regard to other Aston Villa transfer targets, Tavares might be an Arsenal player, yet he doesn’t appear to be part of the main squad. In fact, Nuno Tavares was loaned out for the entire 22/23 season, meaning he played no part in Arsenal’s impressive quest for the Premier League title – even if they did fall short.
This suggests that Arteta isn’t looking to integrate Nuno Tavares with the current squad, and this is the case for both the current and future Arsenal team. Therefore, if Aston Villa did make an official bid for Tavares, it’s likely that Arsenal and Tavares would be receptive to such a deal being completed. Adding to that, Tavares has specifically stressed to Arsenal that if they are to sell him, he wishes to stay in the Premier League, which ticks the box for Villa.
So all that’s left really in terms of getting this deal across the line prior to deadline day is to figure out personal terms. These are reportedly underway as we speak, so this particular move is both exciting and likely.
A joyous player to watch, Italian midfielder Nicolò Zaniolo would be a perfect replacement for the injured Emi Buendia.
The 24 year old burst on the scene at Roma as a teenager before suffering a cruciate ligament injury in 2020 that kept him out for almost a year. Upon his return, Zaniolo struggled to regain his place and pre-injury form under Jose Mourinho, which led to a move to Galatasaray in January of this year.
The Turkish giants triggered a €15m release clause in the midfielder’s contract, which was seen as a massive bargain and could prove to be a key factor in a potential move to Villa Park this summer.
Reports suggest Zaniolo now has a release clause of just €30m in his Galatasaray contract, and with the Istanbul-based club already bringing in the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Mauri Icardi this summer, they could be looking to recoup funds and cash in for a quick profit.
The Villains have already spent well over £100m in this window, but Zaniolo is as good a deal as they could ask for in the current market.
According to further reports, Villa could still be plotting an explosive move for Italy and Juventus winger Federico Chiesa. The Daily Mail reports that Chiesa may be available for as little as £38m, a relative bargain for a player of his pedigree.
Chiesa, 25, became a household name during Italy’s EURO 2020 win, scoring a stunner against Spain in the semi-final and catching the eye with his raw speed and ability to carry the ball long distances, but is reportedly unhappy at Juventus. Chiesa has also shown an ability to play centrally in a front two with the freedom to drift wide, something The Athletic reports is a key factor in Emery’s preferences. The prospect of Chiesa dovetailing with the prolific Ollie Watkins is certainly an exciting one for Villa fans.
The Daily Mail’s report also states that Chiesa ‘would need convincing’, but should Monchi and Emery lure the Italian to Villa Park, it would represent a stunning statement of intent to Villa’s Premier League rivals. Adding Chiesa to the list of players already through the door this summer would cap off an incredible summer window.
Between Chiesa and Zaniolo, the signal of intent from Villa is clear, they are building a squad to compete with the very best.
There are murmurs of other targets that have cooled in recent weeks but should not be ruled out with the market so unpredictable. BirminghamLive have reported that they “show interest” in Napoli’s quicksilver Mexican winger, Hirving Lozano, though will face competition from West Ham and teams from the Saudi League.
The Athletic also report that Emery “still rates” Marseille’s Matteo Guendouzi, and the two share a strong relationship from their time together at Arsenal.
In what would make for a stunning double swoop, TuttoJuve reports that Villa have an interest in €15-20m rated Denis Zakaria as a midfield option alongside Chiesa, despite the Switzerland international’s quiet loan spell at Chelsea.
Whatever happens over the remaining weeks of this summer transfer window, these are exciting times for those associated with the Villains and they look like a side that is only going to get better as time goes on.