Mat Kendrick confirmed on twitter today that Aston Villa are looking at Bulgarian winger Aleksandar Tonev. The 23-year-old, who currently plays for Polish club Lech Poznan, is also being targeted by Celtic. Tonev, who came up through the CSKA Sofia youth system, has been a key part of Lech Poznan's season, scoring four goals to help the club to a second-place finish in the Ekstraklasa.
Tonev has also featured for the Bulgarian national team, and scored a hat-trick in Bulgaria's 6-0 drubbing of Malta in March World Cup qualifying play. There's video of the goals here, though as Aaron said in our email thread, "The only thing I learned from watching these highlights is that Malta is... terrible." Lest you think Aaron is understating, notice the ellipses in that quote. He put it a bit more strongly. In the video, Tonev scores the 1st, 2nd, and 5th goals.
Putting a damper on Aston Villa's desire, though, are Celtic. They've apparently offered something in the range of £2 million. While the Scottish club can offer Tonev Champions League play, he is reportedly concerned about whether or not the Scottish Premier League is any good (hint: it's not). Despite the lack of European play, Villa's presence in the EPL may be an advantage here. One would have to think that having former Bulgarian captain Stiliyan Petrov as a coach would also help Villa's position.
Overall, it's hard to know what to make of Tonev. That said, and I know this is always risky, given the successes with young players in the past year, I'm willing to give Lambert and Co. the benefit of a doubt here. He's going to be a cheap purchase, so there really isn't too much downside. Let's get this summer transfer window started!