Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Game over for Aston Villa pair as ruthless Unai Emery boots two stars out; Steven Gerrard comes to the rescue

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery

Aston Villa will attempt to offload two first-team stars this month following confirmation from Unai Emery, and one of the exits in particular is time-sensitive.

It’s been a dream campaign for Aston Villa so far, with the club firmly entrenching themselves in a genuine title race. Villa sit second in the table at present, are into the fourth round of the FA Cup and booked safe passage directly into the Round of 16 stage in the Europa Conference League.

One might expect Villa to attack the winter window to double down on their early-season heroics. However, it’s been a relatively quiet few weeks since the window opened its doors.

The biggest deal Villa have conducted so far was Finn Azaz’s £2m sale to Middlesbrough on January 5.

Further exits could be on the cards, with today’s Euro Paper Talk bringing news of interest in left-back Lucas Digne.

One player who won’t be leaving Villa Park is Douglas Luiz. The Brazilian has re-emerged as Mikel Arteta’s dream midfield signing for Arsenal, though Villa won’t sanction a sale under any circumstance.

However, two players who do have the green light to leave have now been confirmed by Villa boss Emery.

When speaking in a press conference on Friday, Emery explained why we shouldn’t expect his side to be particularly busy with regards to arrivals this month.

But if a select few sales can be agreed – such as for centre-back Calum Chambers and winger Bertrand Traore – Villa will be better placed to make a splash.

Incomings difficult without exits first – Emery

“It’s difficult (incomings),” said Emery (as quoted by Sky Sports).

“We’re not being very focused on the transfer window because we’re now second in the table. We’re recovering some players who were out from the start of the season until now – Alex Moreno and Jacob Ramsey.

“I’m very happy with the players, the commitment of the players is very good and the wishes and the desire is to work hard.

“We’re going to face three competitions until the end of the season that are very difficult so we ned the players to be ready. We have the players here. Some players can leave.”

Emery then went on to namecheck Chambers and Traore as players whose time is up at Villa Park.

“Calum Chambers and Bertrand Traore can leave,” continued the Spaniard. “And [if they’re sold] we can think about adding some players, but not at the moment. I want to support the players we have now.”

Traore deal takes precedent, as Gerrard link emerges

Chambers has featured just three times for Villa this term, with every appearance coming in Europe. Traore, meanwhile, has racked up just 43 minutes of action across all competitions.

Selling Traore this month is arguably the more important of the deals given the 28-year-old is out of contract in the summer. Chambers, also 28, won’t see his current deal expire until the end of the 2024/25 season.

According to reporter Ben Jacobs, Traore is a target for Saudi Arabian side Al-Ettifaq who are managed by former Villa boss Steven Gerrard.

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