Unai Emery is reportedly eyeing a move for Villarreal attacker Alex Baena, who the Aston Villa manager knows well from his time at the Spanish club.
The 22-year-old is considered to be one of the best young players in LaLiga and has attracted interest from several European teams.
Aston Villa have recently parted ways with Phillipe Coutinho, who has signed for Qatari club Al Duhail on a season-long loan.
As a result, Emery could look to bring in a new attacking player in January to compensate for the former Liverpool man’s departure.
Emery has already signed Pau Torres from Villarreal this summer and he could look to raid his former club once again for Baena.
The Spaniard won the Europa League with the LaLiga club in 2021, so Villa fans will hope he can help their team do the same if they can win the race for his signature when the transfer window re-opens.
Emery keen on Baena reunion
According to reports from Spain (as cited by The Hard Tackle), Emery is ‘looking’ to bring Baena to Aston Villa when the transfer window re-opens in January.
Baena signed for Villarreal in 2020. He has since made 73 appearances in all competitions for the Spanish club, scoring 15 goals and making 14 assists in the process.
A versatile player, Baena has the ability to play as a winger on either flank or as an attacking midfielder, so could be an ideal long-term replacement for Coutinho. He could also provide competition for the likes of Moussa Diaby and Leon Bailey.
As mentioned, his performances in LaLiga have caught the attention of several top clubs. Chelsea considered a move for him last summer, for example.
As per the report, Baena has a release clause of €35m (£30m) in his Villarreal contract, so Aston Villa could ‘easily afford him.’
With that in mind, it will be interesting to see if the Midlands club take Emery’s advice and make a concrete move for the attacker in January.