Aston Villa late move a placeholder for forward target amid ‘expectation’ over summer snare

Nico Williams, Athletic Bilbao, January 2023

The January recall of Bertrand Traore to Aston Villa may well serve as a placeholder before Unai Emery gets his major target, Nico Williams, in the summer.

Villa have been linked with a number of moves in January. That was to be expected, given it’s Emery’s first window in charge of his new club.

It was no surprise that a lot of the players linked were from La Liga. Emery has managed in Spain for much of his career, and clearly knows how to work with Spanish talents.

One of the two signings he made – Alex Moreno – came in from La Liga side Real Betis.

However, he made no other snares from Spain, despite a clear desire to do so.

Indeed, one of the main names linked with Villa in January has been Athletic Bilbao winger Williams. Not only was he fancied by Emery, but Villa reportedly acted on that interest.

Reports suggested they sent a £45million bid to the Spanish side for the electric forward. That would have made Williams the most expensive signing in Villa’s history, if accepted.

However, the forward apparently turned down the offer, wanting to stay in Spain for the time being.

Traore recall a placeholder for Williams

Rather than bring in a player that he didn’t really want after being rejected by Williams, Emery settled for a player already on the club’s books. Indeed, he sanctioned the recall of Traore from Istanbul Basaksehir.

It seems likely that will only be a short-term fix, though. Indeed, Traore might serve as a placeholder for this season, but Emery may not be giving up on Williams without a fight.

Transfer insider Fabrizio Romano believes a summer move might be likely for the winger, too.

“The expectation of those close to Nico Williams is for the player to leave, possibly in the summer. So at the moment, the situation is still complicated,” he told GIVEMESPORT.

As such, Villa could be in the driver’s seat. It seemed one of the main reasons for Williams staying in January was he didn’t want to part with Bilbao just yet.

However, with the expectation that he could make a summer move, there seems no reason Villa won’t be the club he goes to.

They’ve already shown they’re serious about signing him. What’s more, the opportunity to work with Emery is a pull for any player, not least an exciting young Spaniard.

Villa move could turn Williams into a star

Williams has already shown at 20 years of age that he’s a star in the making. He wouldn’t have clubs willing to bid £45million for him otherwise.

He’s having his best season in terms of goals output currently. Indeed, he’s netted six times in all competitions, as well as providing five assists.

A move to a league which is seen as the best in the world would no doubt elevate his level.

What’s more, he’d surely be one of the first names on the team sheet under Emery, so he’d be playing consistently, in a team which is on the up.

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