Aston Villa head into tomorrow’s match against Tottenham Hotspur looking to bounce back from their Boxing Day defeat to Liverpool.
Unai Emery has started off solidly enough as Villa manager, winning two out of his first four Premier League matches, but with the January transfer window fast approaching, there will be some changes to the first-team squad.
There is some deadwood at the club that Emery will be keen on moving on, with Morgan Sanson the prime example, and in doing so, he could sign midfielder Mikel Merino to fill the space vacated by the Frenchman.
Emery must ditch Sanson
Sanson arrived at Villa from Marseille in January 2021 for a fee of £14m and it’s safe to say the move hasn’t exactly worked out.
The £45k-per-week Frenchman has played just 21 times for the club and it’s hard to see him gaining any game time under Emery in the near future.
The Spaniard can replace him by making a move for Merino, with the club keen on bringing him to England from Real Sociedad according to Mundo Deportivo (via Sport Witness) and the report states that he has a €60m (£53m) release clause in his contract, although it remains to be seen whether or not Emery will want to pay this.
It could well be an excellent move for the club, with Merino averaging a Sofascore rating of 7.24/10 across 14 La Liga appearances this season and journalist Josh Bunting has described the 26-year-old as a player that “oozes confidence” previously.
He possesses an excellent attacking threat from the middle of the pitch, evident by registering seven goal contributions, as well as taking an average of 1.7 shots, creating eight big chances, and making 1.4 key passes on average each match.
The midfielder can also be effective defensively, making 2.3 clearances per match all while winning an impressive 7.4 duels per game – at a success rate of 54%.
These statistics suggest Emery would be signing a wonderful player that can excel either going forwards or helping out when his team are having to defend and Villa urgently need someone like this in their midfield.
January should see numerous players exit the club and Sanson will surely be one who will be moved on to free up some funds in order for Emery to complete moves for players such as Merino and this could boost Villa’s prospect ahead of a crucial second half of the season.