Unai Emery is reportedly drawing up ambitious plans to fast-track Aston Villa into a top 10 Premier League outfit amid links to three big-name LaLiga stars.
The Spaniard took charge at Villa Park on November 1, with the former Arsenal boss replacing Steven Gerrard at the Midlands giants. And his impact has been immediate with Villa winning both their Premier League games since his appointment.
Indeed, they followed up their impressive 3-1 win over Manchester United with a 2-1 come-from-behind triumph at Brighton. That latest success lifts the Villans up to 12th and five points clear of the relegation zone going into the break.
That has raised expectations that the club can enjoy a bigger uplift heading into the festive period and beyond.
And with Villa’s owners Nassef Sawiris and Wesley Edens having plans to turn Villa into serious players, they are prepared to back their new manager with serious cash.
As such, Emery is already being linked with a number of impressive raids on LaLiga.
And recently, the club has been linked with a move for impressive Villarreal star Nicolas Jackson. The Senegalese frontman has a £26.1m exit clause in his deal and Emery is reportedly keen to exploit that and have the attacker follow up to his new club.
However, it seems Emery has even bigger plans for incomings from LaLiga with three big-name stars from Barcelona and Real Madrid seemingly in his sights.
Indeed, as per Monday’s Transfer Gossip, Emery’s top target is Barcelona midfielder Franck Kessie.
The Ivorian moved to the Nou Camp as a free agent over the summer with his deal at AC Milan expiring. It was in Italy where Kessie emerged as one of Serie A’s leading midfielders, playing a big role as Stefano Pioli’s side won the 2022 Scudetto.
Kessie on Villa transfer wishlist
However, the move to Barcelona has not worked out as planned.
Kessie has started just two matches in LaLiga, with another five appearances off the bench. He’s fared better in the Champions League, playing six times with three of those starts. But Barcelona’s failure to reach the knockout stages does not reflect well on the midfielder.
And with Kessie struggling to impress Xavi Hernandez, Sport claims they are willing to consider his sale in January.
As a result, Villa are reportedly preparing an opening £12.3m (€14m) offer to Barcelona for the 25-year-old.
However, the report claims that is likely to be rejected, though suggest a bid nearer the £19.3m (€22m) mark will convince them to sell.
Fulham are also reportedly keen – but it is Villa who appear to be in the driving seat thanks to Emery.
In addition to Kessie, the Villa boss is also reportedly targeting a double raid on Real Madrid.
Two Real Madrid stars wanted by Villa
And according to reports, Emery is keen on Los Blancos pair Eden Hazard and Nacho Fernandez.
Hazard is reportedly free to leave the Bernabeu after a frustrating spell at the club. Having cost around £95m from Chelsea in summer 2019, his five-year deal has around 18 months left to run.
And Real are reportedly preparing to listen to offers for the 31-year-old. Furthermore, reports claim Hazard has told Thibaut Courtois he wants to return to the Premier League should he leave.
Nacho, meanwhile, will reportedly be made available for a cut-price fee in January. His deal expires next summer and the 32-year-old is way down the pecking order under Carlo Ancelotti.
Indeed, the 32-year-old defender has just one start to his name in LaLiga this season. Ancelotti has Antonio Rudiger, David Alaba and Eder Militao as options to play in the centre of defence.
Villa have struggled in central defence this season after seeing big summer signing Diego Carlos suffer a serious Achilles injury.