First Aston Villa signing of Unai Emery era as La Liga raid confirmed, with manager also plotting Arsenal reunion

Alex Moreno of Aston Villa

Unai Emery has completed his first signing as Aston Villa boss, with left-back Alex Moreno arriving on a permanent deal from Real Betis.

Moreno was close to joining Nottingham Forest in summer 2022, with Steve Cooper’s side even agreeing a fee with Betis for him. But the defender got cold feet at the last minute and opted to remain in La Liga.

Moreno has now secured his move to the Premier League though by joining Villa, with the transfer reportedly worth £12.5million.

Reacting to the capture, Emery told club media: “Aex is a good player that can help our squad. He has been one of the top left-backs in La Liga over the past few seasons and we are delighted to have him here.”

The 29-year-old will wear the number 15 shirt at Villa Park. He will likely rival Frenchman Lucas Digne for a starting spot on the left side of defence.

Moreno’s arrival puts Ludwig Augustinsson’s future at Villa into doubt. He is on loan from Sevilla but will probably be sent back to Spain at the end of the season if Moreno does well.

Emery knows Moreno from his time managing in La Liga. And he could reunite with a midfielder from his days at Arsenal, too.

According to Fabrizio Romano, Villa ‘appreciate’ Matteo Guendouzi. The 23-year-old has done well at Marseille since leaving Arsenal – initially on loan – in summer 2021.

Aston Villa linked with Ligue 1 swoop

Despite Villa’s interest in landing Guendouzi, Romano believes they are yet to act on it and submit an offer. But given Emery’s good relationship with Guendouzi, a bid could surface in the next few days.

Guendouzi was highly rated at Arsenal but frustrated Mikel Arteta due to his fiery temperament. Emery may feel he can keep the France international calm and grounded, therefore getting the best out of him at Villa Park.

Guendouzi is an important player for Marseille, having made 22 appearances in all competitions and scored three goals this term. Plus, his contract with the Ligue 1 side runs until 2025.

But Villa chiefs have shown they are willing to back both Emery and his predecessor Steven Gerrard. As such, they should have the funds to get Marseille to agree on a sale for Guendouzi.

Meanwhile, Gerrard is weighing up a surprise option for his managerial return, according to reports.