Aston Villa now ‘most likely destination’ for Liverpool, Tottenham target as brilliant Emery hijack gets confirmation

·3-min read
Adrien Rabiot and Manuel Ugarte Credit: Alamy
Adrien Rabiot and Manuel Ugarte Credit: Alamy

A second source has confirmed Aston Villa are in discussions over a brilliant move for a Liverpool and Tottenham target, with Unai Emery’s team now the ‘most likely destination’ for him.

Emery has done a fantastic job since becoming Villa boss in November. He has dragged the Villans from just above the relegation zone all the way up to eighth place. There is a chance Villa could qualify for next season’s Europa League, which would be a great achievement.

Emery has got the best out of some of Villa’s existing crop of players, including Ollie Watkins, Emi Buendia and Jacob Ramsey. The Spaniard has also made some clever signings, with January arrival Alex Moreno establishing himself as an important player. Moreno has been so good in fact that he has already been linked with a big-money transfer to Manchester City.

Emery greenlighted the signing of young striker Jhon Duran, too. Duran is not yet a regular starter, but he will likely emerge into an integral star in the future as he has huge potential.

Emery is also identifying summer targets as he looks ahead to the next stage of his Villa revamp. And it could result in an impressive move for Sporting Lisbon star Manuel Ugarte.

The defensive midfielder has been looked at by Liverpool as a potential solution to Jurgen Klopp’s midfield problems. Tottenham are also keeping tabs on his performances.

READ MORE – Sources: Villa hunting quick-fire deal for Southampton star as urgent fix for problematic Emery position

But last week, a report revealed Villa had entered ‘talks’ with Sporting to sign Ugarte first.

That claim has now been backed up by Portuguese newspaper A Bola (via Sport Witness). Villa are said to be ‘in contact’ with Sporting as they aim to bring him to England.

Aston Villa in for Primeira Liga enforcer

Despite Ugarte being wanted by some of the best clubs in England, Villa have emerged as ‘serious candidates’ after going on the ‘attack’ for him.

Villa Park now represents the ‘most likely destination’ for the Uruguayan. Fabrizio Romano recently confirmed that Ugarte’s contract includes a €60million (£52m) release clause.

However, A Bola report that Villa will try to negotiate his actual transfer fee down to between €40-50m (£35-43m).

There is the potential for Ugarte to become the most expensive player in Villa history. He could eclipse the arrival of Emi Buendia, which cost Villa an initial £33m but had the potential to rise to £38m through add-ons.

The capture of Ugarte would be a real transfer coup for Villa. He has been very impressive for Sporting this season and helped them overcome Arsenal in the Europa League last 16. The fact Liverpool and Spurs have struck up an interest in him shows just how highly rated he is across Europe.

Earlier on Wednesday, Wolves were backed to win the race for Ugarte thanks to their good relationship with his agent, Jorge Mendes. But now it seems Villa will get to him before anyone else.

Emery can already play the likes of Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Ramsey and Boubacar Kamara in central midfield. In recent weeks, he has selected McGinn and Luiz in the middle and Ramsey on the left.

Perhaps Ugarte could eventually become Luiz’s replacement and partner McGinn in the Villa team, creating a battle-hardened core.

Meanwhile, Villa have been linked with an ambitious double swoop for an Inter Milan pair by the Italian media.

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