Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Aston Villa transfer latest: Unai Emery turns to tried and trusted as £40m-rated LaLiga defender emerges as top target

Pau Torres and Etienne Capoue celebrate for Villarreal

Unai Emery has reportedly made a Villarreal centre-back his top January transfer window target, as he looks to put his stamp on Aston Villa’s squad.

Emery replaced Steven Gerrard as Villa boss on October 24 and will be in the dugout for the first time on Sunday when Manchester United visit Villa Park.

Villa currently sit 16th in the Premier League and are just a point above the drop zone, as it stands.

And it appears that Emery is already plotting where he can improve his first XI in the new year.

A report from Football Insider claims Emery has given the green light for his new club to raid his old one for centre-back Pau Torres.

The Spain international has been a long-time target for Premier League clubs. Indeed, that list includes the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham.

But Football Insider now claims Villa have joined the chase for his signature, with Torres valued at £40million.

The 25-year-old would slot in as the left-sided centre-back at Villa. That, in turn, could end up being bad news for the much-maligned Tyrone Mings.

Emery knows what to expect from ‘leader’ Torres

Torres is also regarded as a leader, and the fact Emery knows the player so well makes a potential move all the more likely.

The Spain international was instrumental in Villarreal’s transformation under Emery. Indeed, he was pivotal in their run to last season’s Champions League semi-final stage.

He has started all 12 of the club’s LaLiga games this season, making 15 appearances in all competitions.

Since breaking into the Villarreal first team,  Torres has made 149 appearances and won the Europa League in 2021.

His current contract runs out in the summer of 2024. That means January or next summer are the best chances Villarreal have of recouping a decent fee for the player.

Villa are expected to face rivals for the player’s signature, however.

Tottenham remain interested and Antonio Conte is expected to add at least one world-class centre-back to his squad in the new year.

Indeed, Villa’s best hope of securing Torres would be if Spurs snap up their top target Alessandro Bastoni instead.

And that is where they could be in luck, as Tottenham are confident of landing the Italy international in January.

READ MORE: Coutinho under threat as Spanish press names Villarreal star as Unai Emery’s first Villa signing