Aston Villa hopes take huge hit as Champions League trio swoop on target

Pablo Sarabia tackling Pape Matar Sarr

Aston Villa’s hopes of signing a highly rated young midfielder have taken a huge hit after a host of top clubs closed in on his signature, according to a report.

Villa have had an extremely active transfer window. The Midlands club were making waves in the market even before the £100m departure of Jack Grealish to Manchester City. The signings of Emiliano Buendia, Danny Ings and Leon Bailey all cost around the £30m mark.

And there have been a number of other players they have targeted but not managed to secure.

At one point, they were pushing hard to pinch Emile Smith Rowe from Arsenal. The 20-year-old attracted a reported £30m bid, but he eventually signed a new deal at the Emirates.

They also tried their luck with Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse. The south coast club stood firm and the interest faded, though.

And now it seems like another of their targets of this summer is slipping from their grasp.

Villa were at one point looking to be leading the race to sign Metz youngster Pape Matar Sarr.

However, recent reports indicated the trio of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City were all keen on making Sarr their’s.

And now the latest development, as reported by Sky Sports, is that Metz president Bernard Serin was set to fly in to England yesterday to speak with all three clubs about the 18-year-old.

Pape Sarr, Metz

Serin was due to arrive at Stansted airport in the morning before heading to chat with their respective chairmans.

The discussed fee is said to be around €30m, so well within Villa’s grasp. However, they cannot compete with the offer of Champions League football like their Premier League counterparts.

At one point Real Madrid were named in the running. But the latest reports suggest it is firmly a three horse race, with the Spanish giants not involved in the negotiations.

Smith urges forward thinking

Meanwhile, Dean Smith has insisted the club are over Jack Grealish following his departure to Manchester City – and insists the fans need to do the same.

Villa fell 3-2 to the Hornets on the opening day of the season. The scoreline probably didn’t reflect the action of the game, with Smith’s side going three goals behind to the Premier League returnees before getting two consolation goals back.

Indeed, there was a real lack of creativity from Villa, with the loss of Grealish keenly felt. Villa had to wait until the 70th minute for their first shot on target, just to underline that issue.

But with some supporters bemoaning their lack of imagination amid Grealish’s £100m exit, Smith has sent out a defiant message.

READ MOREDean Smith in defiant message to Villa fans pining for Jack Grealish