Aston Villa turned down the chance to sign a rising Premier League star who could have helped save Steven Gerrard’s job, according to a report.
Gerrard was sacked on October 20 by Aston Villa, shortly after the 3-0 defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage. The West Midlands outfit had won just twice in the Premier League at that point and were performing well below what was expected of them.
Villa’s owners were hoping Gerrard could help them push for European qualification after signing top players like Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara.
However, they were at the wrong end of the table 12 league matches in and this forced club chiefs to act.
Villa announced Unai Emery as Gerrard’s replacement on October 24. And the former Villarreal boss took over at Villa Park on November 1.
He has enjoyed a great start, with Villa beating Manchester United 3-1 at home in his first game in charge.
The Red Devils got their revenge on Villa in the Carabao Cup the next time out, but Emery’s men responded to that defeat by picking up their fifth league victory of the season against Brighton.
Emery now has the World Cup break to formulate his transfer plans and tactics. The Spaniard already looks set to have a more successful spell at the club than Gerrard did.
Aston Villa, Steven Gerrard turn down midfield ace
A report has now revealed one possible failure of Gerrard’s at Villa. According to Football Insider, he had the chance to capture Joao Palhinha from Sporting Lisbon during the summer transfer window.
Villa were offered the midfield enforcer, just like West Midlands rivals Wolves. However, Gerrard opted against signing Palhinha and he secured a move to Fulham on July 4.
The Portugal international has since made 14 appearances for Fulham. And he has done extremely well, cementing himself as one of the first names on the team sheet for Marco Silva. Plus, Palhinha is on his way to becoming a real star in England.
He may not have been able to single-handedly save Gerrard’s job. But Palhinha could have improved Villa’s somewhat lax midfield performances under the Liverpool icon.
Villa officials will now be regretting the decision not to sign Palhinha. Instead, they spent £15m to bring in Leander Dendoncker from Wolves.
And the Belgian is yet to make a real impact at Villa. He has started just five league games, with a lot of his outings coming from the bench.
Dendoncker is far from a valuable asset for Villa. In contrast, Palhinha looks set to shine for Fulham before securing a big-money transfer elsewhere.
Large clubs such as Man Utd and Tottenham were linked with the 27-year-old before his move to the Cottagers.
Clearly Emery will be looking to avoid some of the mistakes of his predecessor, including his Palhinha mishap.
One potential deal could see Villa get rid of Philippe Coutinho, who looks like an expensive mistake. And they may bring in an Inter Milan star as part of a swap deal involving Coutinho.