Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Monchi opens Villa club-record transfer talks for brilliant LaLiga attacker; Pau Torres a key factor in deal

Villarreal winger Alex Baena could link up with Pau Torres at Aston Villa

Villarreal winger Alex Baena could link up with Pau Torres at Aston Villa

Aston Villa chief Monchi is reportedly in talks with Villarreal over a deal for explosive winger Alex Baena, as he looks to further arm Unai Emery with the ammunition needed to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The arrival of Emery at Villa Park just over a year ago has sparked a major renaissance at the Midlands’ giants, who have been one of the calendar year’s most consistent sides in the Premier League. Currently sat fourth in the Premier League table, Aston Villa could climb to third if they manage to see off Manchester City in a vital clash on Wednesday evening.

That run of form under the Spanish tactitian has raised hopes that Villa – who significantly strenghtened their squad over the summer with the signings of Pau Torres, Moussa Diaby, Youri Tielemans and Nicolo Zaniolo, among others – could be in line for a top-four finish in the Premier League this season.

And in order to help boost their chances, Villa’s president of football operations, Monchi, is looking to make one or two additions to his squad in the January window, which is due to open in just 26 days.

Now according to AS, Villa are one of the clubs in the running to sign Villarreal winger Baena to the club in that winter window.

The winger is regarded as one of LaLiga’s most exciting prospects, having scored four goals and adding six assists to his name across 21 appearances so far this season.

That form has seen the 22-year-old rewarded with full international honours with Spain, whom he scored for against Cyprus while stepping off the bench on debut.

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Villa target Alex Baena has €60m exit clause

As a result, interest in Baena has grown rapidly in the last six months, with the likes of Barcelona, Arsenal and Liverpool among the clubs to have been linked with his signature.

However, while Barcelona remain keen and Liverpool and Arsenal have priorities elsewhere, AS believes Villa are now on pole position to secure his signing.

And per reports, Monchi has already been in contact with Villarreal over a possible transfer.

The Yellow Submarine have suffered an indifferent season so far after offloading a number of their prized assets over the summer. In addition to Torres, who moved to Villa in a €40m (£33.5m) fee, Villarreal also lost Nicolas Jackson to Chelsea and Samuel Chukwueze to AC Milan too.

The departure of Baena would also hit them hard, despite the fact that the player has a huge €60m (£51.4m) exit clause in his deal.

That would set Villa back a new joint club-record fee, which currently sits at the €60m paid to Bayer Leverkusen for Diaby over the summer.

According to the report, Villa’s opening offer for Baena is in the region of €40m (£34.2m) – some way short of his release clause.

Pau Torres can help Villa secure deal

However, there is a growing belief Monchi will be able to talk the Yellow Submarine into a deal as they look to generate funds for further team strengthening of their own.

Furthermore, it’s reported that Villa and Villarreal have good relations following the deal that took Torres to the West Midlands over the summer. And with Baena a close friend of the Villa No 14, he is reportedly keen on following his former teammate to the ambitious Premier League side.

Emery has been in the market for another attacking option, despite also having Leon Bailey to call upon this season and with the side, at the time of writing, joint second top scorers in the league this season behind Man City.

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