Unai Emery is continuing to work on transfer plans at Aston Villa and could land two former Arsenal players in the summer window, according to reports.
Emery made big changes to the Villa squad in January, allowing six players to leave either on temporary or permanent deals. Danny Ings and Frederic Guilbert were sold, while Cameron Archer, Morgan Sanson and Marvelous Nakamba were sent on loan to other teams. Plus, Ludwig Augustinsson was sent back to Spain as his loan move was cut short.
Emery decided to bring right winger Bertrand Traore back from his loan spell at Turkish outfit Istanbul Basaksehir. The signings of Jhon Duran and Alex Moreno were also completed before the transfer deadline.
Villa hope this will be enough to see the team achieve a top-half finish. They currently sit 11th in the Premier League table with 28 points.
Emery has big aspirations for future campaigns though. And to match his ambitions, Villa need to spend more money on players.
The West Midlands side failed to bring in former Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi during the winter window. They were in talks with both Guendouzi and Marseille, but his club were not willing to let him go.
Emery could still reunite with the former Gunners man, however. The Daily Mail report that Villa will return for Guendouzi in the summer and will improve their offer.
And now a second former Arsenal player has emerged on Emery’s radar. According to Spanish newspaper Marca, the 51-year-old is keen to take Dani Ceballos on board.
Unai Emery relying on Arsenal connections
Ceballos, who operates in midfield like Guendouzi, played under Emery from July 2019 until November 2021, when the manager was sacked and eventually replaced by Mikel Arteta.
Ceballos is back at Real Madrid and has made 21 appearances in all competitions so far this season. However, few of these have lasted a full 90 minutes due to Carlo Ancelotti’s brilliant options in midfield.
The 26-year-old’s Real contract expires at the end of the season. Therefore, he could leave the Spanish capital on the cheap, unless Los Blancos sort out a new contract.
Marca report that Atletico Madrid hope to land Ceballos this summer. Such a move would be controversial given the rivalry between Real and Atleti.
But Diego Simeone’s side are not alone in pursuing Ceballos, with AC Milan and Villa also in the frame.
Milan and Villa have both ‘knocked on the door’ with proposals for the 11-cap Spain international. Unfortunately for Emery, his first approach has been pushed back.
Ceballos has indicated his desire to remain at Real by sorting out a new deal with them.
Aston Villa move not over despite contract update
This will come as a blow to Emery, who was looking at the player to improve his midfield options. However, the pursuit is not dead in the water.
As Ceballos is not a regular starter for Real, they are unlikely to offer him a lucrative contract. And if the new terms fall well short of Ceballos’ demands, then he may have to suck it up and leave the La Liga giants.
This is when Villa will be given a second shot at capturing him.
Ceballos would be a decent signing for Villa. While he was not one of Arsenal’s best players during his time there, he is still a steady midfielder with a good amount of Prem experience.
Emery already knows him, too. This means the manager will know how to help him get better and what kind of midfield partner suits him best.