Aston Villa are gradually coming to the realisation they may have to sell a top player to Chelsea this summer and have identified a high-quality La Liga replacement, as per a report.
Villa finished off their exceptional rise under Unai Emery by beating another impressive side, in the form of Brighton, 2-1 on the final day of the Premier League campaign. Villa managed to finish seventh in the table, which means they will play in next season’s Europa Conference League. It will be the first time they have appeared in any European competition since 2010.
It it a remarkable achievement for Emery given how much the Villans had struggled under managerial predecessor Steven Gerrard. When the Liverpool legend was sacked, Villa occupied 17th spot.
Emery will be hoping to complete some impressive captures this summer to prepare Villa for an assault on the Prem’s top six as well as a gruelling – but exciting – European campaign.
Villa had been in the frame to sign Marco Asensio on a free transfer from Real Madrid, but he is now poised to join Paris Saint-Germain instead.
Elsewhere, Emery has reportedly told the Villa board to try and derail Newcastle’s swoop for Arsenal left-back Kieran Tierney.
While Villa could make some big-money signings ahead of next season, they might have to let one of their star players go. A recent report claimed Emi Martinez is at the top of Mauricio Pochettino’s wish list as the new Chelsea boss looks to replace Kepa Arrizalabaga and Edouard Mendy.
Villa supporters may be surprised by the prospect of Martinez going to Chelsea. After all, Chelsea finished below Villa in the Prem this term and will not be competing in Europe next season, unlike their West Midlands counterparts.
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However, Chelsea can offer Martinez significantly higher wages than Villa, while Pochettino will attempt to convince his fellow Argentine on his plan to get the Blues back to the summit of English football. Plus, Chelsea have the money to submit an offer for Martinez that is simply too good for Villa to turn down.
But the Villa faithful should not be too worried about Martinez going. While the 30-year-old has largely been excellent in a Villa shirt, Emery is targeting a great replacement.
According to Spanish outlet AS, Villa will go after Sevilla shot-stopper Yassine Bounou, also known as Bono, if Martinez departs.
Bono is a highly rated keeper, having starred for both Morocco during their World Cup campaign and for Sevilla as they won the Europa League yet again.
The report reveals Villa have joined the race for the Canada-born Morocco international in the last few days. The main reason for this is the uncertainty surrounding Martinez’s future at Villa Park.
Unfortunately for Emery, Villa are far from the only side keen on Bono. Rival interest in the Prem comes from Tottenham, who are in need of a successor for Hugo Lloris.
Elsewhere, teams in Italy and Saudi Arabia are said to be looking at him.
Sevilla are aware of the growing interest in their player and are thought to be ‘rubbing their hands’ at the thought of a potential bidding war. They have set Bono’s price tag at between £17-22m. But if an auction begins then they could receive far more than this.
Despite the large amount of rival interest, Villa will be confident about winning the race for the 32-year-old. They are in a good financial situation and should therefore be able to match any offers from Spurs or the Italian suitors.
Saudi Arabian clubs will likely be able to offer Bono the most money. However, Villa will point to their recent rise and try to convince Bono that they are the perfect next club for him.