Unai Emery wants to part ways with an Aston Villa flop and is planning to sign an Inter Milan star as part of a player exchange deal, according to a report.
Emery took charge of Villa on November 1, after the club announced his capture from Villarreal on October 24. The Spaniard, who has previously managed Arsenal, has been involved in three Villa matches so far.
During his first game in charge, the Villans pulled off a shock at home by beating Manchester United 3-1 in the Premier League. Leon Bailey, Lucas Digne and Jacob Ramsey all got on the scoresheet.
Villa were hoping to make it consecutive wins against Man Utd when they came up against Erik ten Hag’s side again in the Carabao Cup four days later.
However, they were on the wrong end of a six-goal thriller at Old Trafford. It ended 4-2 in Man Utd’s favour and they will come up against Burnley in the next round of the competition.
Villa then travelled to Brighton in their final outing before the World Cup break. Danny Ings scored twice as Villa picked up an impressive 2-1 win at the Amex.
They now sit in 12th place after 15 games, five points above from the relegation zone. They are also just one point behind the top 10.
Emery will now have the World Cup period to look at his tactics, best Villa lineup and how to take the club forward from here.
Unai Emery wants Serie A man
The 51-year-old will also start to form some of his transfer plans for the January window.
Italian source Inter Live claim to have the inside scoop on some of Emery’s transfer ideas. They suggest the Villa boss is a big fan of Inter Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu.
The Turk has put in some impressive performances for Inter this season, both in Serie A and in the Champions League. Inter Live describe them as ‘superlative’.
Emery apparently believes Calhanoglu would be a great fit in his midfield. The 28-year-old could become the new link between midfield and attack.
Emery hopes to bring him to the West Midlands, though he does not believe a big-money bid to be necessary. Instead, he is planning to engineer a player exchange involving a member of his current squad.
The report claims Philippe Coutinho is on the chopping block. The former Liverpool man was hoping to reignite his career at Villa and under Steven Gerrard. He cost around £20m but, despite some early signs of promise, hasn’t lived up to expectations.
Now Gerrard has gone, Coutinho is highly likely to be let go. And Emery reckons it would be a good idea to use him and tempt Inter into a deal for Calhanoglu.
72-cap international Calhanoglu is at a bit of a crossroads in his career. His Inter deal expires in 2024, so he must soon decide whether to renew there or seek a new challenge.
He has played in Italy since 2017, when he swapped Bayer Leverkusen for AC Milan. And he performed a transfer few can dream of when joining Inter from their local rivals last summer.
Calhanoglu may decide that Emery and Villa represent a decent option for his new challenge. However, the English outfit would have to convince Inter on the move.
The Nerazzurri’s CEO, Giuseppe Marotta, is apparently unconvinced by Coutinho and would see the player exchange as weakening Inter’s starting eleven. Plus, Marotta has concerns about his club matching Coutinho’s wage demands.
It is no surprise that Emery wants to offload Coutinho. He simply does not have the confidence or fitness to impact games like he used to at Liverpool.
But, as shown by Marotta’s stance, it will be hard for Villa to find a potential buyer for the Brazilian.
His Villa contract runs until 2o26. Perhaps one way to get him off the books would be to terminate his contract and allow him to leave on a free. This would give more teams the chance to sign him as they wouldn’t have to pay a transfer fee. But it does mean Villa would take a big loss on the playmaker.