Aston Villa will have to spend more than first thought to reunite Unai Emery with a Villarreal forward after TEAMtalk sources revealed a secret deal has been signed.
All eyes will be on Aston Villa come January and to what extent they back new manager Unai Emery. The Spaniard succeeded Steven Gerrard in late-October after the Liverpool legend failed to ignite Villa at both ends of the pitch.
Their attacking struggles were particularly concerning given the calibre of player Villa have at their disposal.
Indeed, a quintet of Danny Ings, Ollie Watkins, Leon Bailey, Philippe Coutinho and Emiliano Buendia should be more than a match for most Premier League defences.
Yet pat the point of Gerrard’s dismissal, Villa were the league’s joint-second lowest scorers, with only Wolves having found the net on fewer occasions.
As such, speculation is rife Villa will back Emery and a new forward could be on the agenda. To that end, Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo claimed Emery urged his new club to move quickly to sign Nicolas Jackson.
The 21-year-old Senegalese can operate anywhere across the frontline, and has been deployed mainly at centre-forward or second striker this season.
He is well known to Emery given he plies his trade for Villarreal. A cost-effective deal looked there for the making in January given the common belief is Jackson’s contract is due to expire next summer.
That would’ve left Villarreal vulnerable to a January raid with the winter window constituting their last chance to generate a sale.
However, TEAMtalk has learned Jackson’s contract in Spain does not expire next summer, quite the contrary.
Secret deal ramps up Aston Villa cost
We’ve been told Jackson actually signed a new long-term deal earlier in 2022 that will keep him at Villarreal until 2026.
Emery will be aware of the deal given he was in charge until a fortnight ago. But given the club haven’t publicly announced it, inaccurate reports have emerged claiming he’ll be a free agent next summer.
Regardless, there is still hope for Aston Villa, though a deal will no longer come cheap.
Despite being under a long-term contract with Villarreal, it is understood Jackson does have a £30m release clause.
Emery is a big fan of Jackson having promoted him into his Villarreal side this season from the B team.
Jackson did make eight cameo appearances – all off the bench – last season. However, it is in the current campaign where the versatile forward has come to the fore.
Jackson has contributed three goals and two assists in 20 games for Villarreal so far, though those modest numbers don’t tell the full story.
His impressive all-around displays have brought him onto the radar of a number of clubs, including Barcelona, Newcastle and Everton, as well as Aston Villa.
Jackson could still be signed as early as January, though per our sources, his secret contract extension now means a cut-price deal is off the table.