Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Aston Villa’s ‘Messi of recruitment’ eyes £69m star amid West Ham transfer battle

Sporting Lisbon star Pedro Goncalves is a summer target for Aston Villa and West Ham

Sporting Lisbon star Pedro Goncalves is a summer target for Aston Villa and West Ham

Aston Villa are reportedly still trying to tempt Sporting Lisbon star Pedro Goncalves to Villa Park amid rival interest from West Ham and Bayer Leverkusen.

The two-time Portugal international began his career at Wolves but made just one appearance for the Premier League side in the 2018/19 season, before signing for Primeira Liga outfit Famalicao the following campaign.

After firing in seven goals in 40 appearances, attacking midfielder Goncalves was snapped up by Sporting for £5.6m in August 2020 and since then he has scored a whopping 76 goals and bagged 50 assists in 173 appearances.

His value has skyrocketed in that time, the 25-year-old is on a bumper deal that expires in 2027, and he has helped the Lisbon outfit win the Portuguese top-flight, the Taca da Liga twice, and the Supertaca Candido de Oliveira, too.

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Goncalves, who can also play as a winger, was reportedly the subject of a £25.8m bid from Leverkusen last summer – an offer that was swiftly rejected by the Portuguese giants.

Competition heats up for Sporting star

Fast forward to the present and the former Valencia academy product is understood to have a £69m release clause, which may price out many potential suitors.

But nearly a year on from when Aston Villa were tracking Goncalves, who has led Sporting to the brink of the league title and they are in the Taca de Portugal final as well, Unai Emery’s side are reportedly still keen on acquiring the talented playmaker.

Incidentally, since Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo ‘Monchi’ became Villa’s new President of Football Operations last June, ending his time as Sevilla’s Director of Football in the process, the Villans have signed talent such as centre-back Pau Torres, winger Moussa Diaby, and midfielder Youri Tielemans, among others.

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Hot on the heels of Emery signing a new Villa contract until 2027, the Champions League-chasing side will hope Monchi – who helped sign Dani Alves, Freddie Kanoute, and Ivan Rakitic during his time at Sevilla – can pull off another transfer masterclass by recruiting the 5ft 7in Goncalves this summer.

‘Lionel Messi of recruitment’

What may precipitate an exit for the attacker, who has scored 18 goals and turned provider 16 times this season, is the fact that Sporting boss Ruben Amorim has been linked with a move to West Ham and Liverpool. If he were to leave, that could pave the way for Goncalves to head to the Premier League, too.

Portuguese publication Record give no indication of what West Ham or Villa would have to pay to sign the Sporting ace but if the latter secures Champions League football next season that will naturally make them the more attractive option. Conversely, if Amorim goes to West Ham, that could change things entirely.

Monchi was once branded the ‘Lionel Messi of recruitment’ following his time Sevilla and Roma, due to the fact he bought little known gems and turned then into big-name stars with hefty price tags, and Villa will hope he can use all of his nous and transfer acumen to get this deal done.