God knows what magic Unai Emery has instilled in Aston Villa, but ever since he walked into the dugout, they have become the best version of themselves.
Last season, Emery took Villa from relegation candidates to European qualification and this season has been even more inspiring.
With 43 points in 22 games, they are within the top four in the league table. They are also on the lookout for a Champions League spot, a feat they haven’t achieved since 1982.
Now coming to the January transfer, much like the majority of teams in the Premier League this January, Aston Villa is yet to make a big signing.
The fact that they are performing very well, have few injuries, and seem to have established good team chemistry means new faces aren’t an absolute requirement. But keeping European competition in mind, Unai Emery is on the lookout to further add depth to his squad.
According to O Jogo, Villa is in talks over the Sporting CP midfielder- Pedro Gonçalves.
The club has apparently been long-term admirers of the Portuguese and has now reignited their interest in the final days of the window.
Monchi, the President of Football Operations at Aston Villa, and his recruitment team have been in contact with the player’s entourage to establish contractual details, but a deal is easier said than done. Gonçalves’ current terms run until the summer of 2027, and his release clause stands at £68m.
The Portuguese player has been on the radar of many big clubs, notably West Ham.
But seeing the race for such a promising player, Wolverhampton Wanderers must be regretting their decision for being too impatient with the player.
Interestingly, Pedro Gonçalves signed a two-year contract with Wolverhampton Wanderers in July 2017. But things were just not meant to be. Despite making a positive impact at the youth level by scoring nine goals and contributing an additional four in 38 games for the U23s, he was considered inadequate for the first team and was made available for sale after two years.
Having left Wolves for Famalicao in the summer of 2019 for a fee of just £1.1m, Gonçalves found his stride. Just a year later, Sporting CP signed the now-25-year-old for £5.8m.
Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, scoring 69 goals and providing 44 assists for the Portuguese side in just 159 appearances. He won the league’s Golden Boot in his first season with 23 goals and is on course to continue his record of ranking eighth or higher for direct goal contributions every year.
His astounding records were bound to grab attention from Premier League clubs, and Aston Villa is one of the first to arrive at the party. However, Sporting CP is not keen on selling the promising player in the middle of the season.
Aston Villa was told to trigger his release clause when they first registered their interest many months ago. But with a release clause worth €80m (£69m), it’s virtually impossible for Villa to pull off such a big deal with so little time left in the January transfer window.
Villa’s approach could hint towards a move in the summer, where UEFA Champions League qualification could give Unai Emery’s side the upper hand needed to sign Gonçalves.
Not to mention the much-needed financial cushion during the summer window.
The Athletic reported that Aston Villa must raise funds by the end of June to stay compliant with profit and sustainability rules. So, Unai Emery has to move on from Gonçalves for the time being.
And not just Aston Villa, these financial issues and FFP regulations have plagued the entire 2023/24 winter transfer window. Interestingly, more than £800 million was spent in the January transfer window in the 2022/23 season.
Just fast forward to a year, and things could have been more different. You know things are tight when even Chelsea and Newcastle have been quiet in the transfer market
As a result, clubs are resorting to smart loan deals for players.
Amidst this, sports writer Charlie Bennett has come out with interesting transfer conjecture. The Newcastle United fan has suggested a swap deal between Aston Villa and the Magpies that can be a win-win for both teams.
As per Mail Online, Newcastle United have reportedly made an approach for Aston Villa midfielder – Jacob Ramsey. Ramsey impressed at Villa Park in recent seasons and has made 11 Premier League appearances so far and scoring in one.
But a deal doesn’t seem likely as Villa has tagged the midfielder in excess of £50 million. As a result, the deal is not economically practical even though Newcastle’s midfielder department is very slim.
On the flip side, Villa is themselves light on options at right-back. Unai Emery did add the Serbian prodigy Kosta Nedeljkovic to his ranks last week, but he was loaned immediately back to Red Star Belgrade. Having said that, Matty Cash remains the only senior option at the club.
As per suggestions on 3addedminutes, it is just sensible for the two clubs to go ahead and discuss a swap deal wherein Aston Villa can ask to acquire Newcastle’s promising right back, Emil Krafth, in exchange for Jacob Ramsey.
At 29, Krafth has made 72 appearances for the Magpies and could be the missing puzzle piece for Unai Emery.
Moreover, with Ramsey gaining much-needed minutes at St James’ Park, it is actually a reasonable transfer when considering the equal advantage for both parties involved. But will the clubs be open to such exchanges? Maybe it can be an option for the summer transfer window to explore in detail.