Paul Lambert entered the summer with glaring holes in his Villa squad. But with the signing of defensive midfielder Carlos Sánchez on a four-year deal from La Liga's Elche, Lambert is set to have his first Aston Villa squad that covers all the bases. Nicknamed La Roca (Spanish for 'The Rock'), the Colombian international comes to B6 as the biggest signing of the summer after Aston Villa beat out interest from Everton and Queens Park Rangers to secure the strong man's signature.
Sánchez featured in four of Colombia's five World Cup fixtures and should fit in nicely for Paul Lambert's side, providing the Scottish manager with a strong defensive midfielder for the first time in his tenure at Villa Park. His presence should help further strengthen the Villa defense, providing cover for an improved back line that might feature two new faces and a reintegrated one on Opening Day. Playing alongside a proper defensive midfielder will allow Fabian Delph the opportunity to be a box-to-box midfielder while Ashley Westwood might flourish alongside the Colombian if given the chance.
Sánchez joins from Elche, where he made 30 appearances last season after joining from Ligue 1's Valenciennes for a fee of €3.7 million. He joined Valenciennes in 2007 from the Uruguayan River Plate and made 178 appearances over six years for the French club, scoring 10 goals in the process.
La Roca seems like a perfect fit for Villa in more ways than one though as he's set to figure into Villa's ever-competitive race to be the club's most-disciplined player. Sánchez saw yellow nine times during his lone year at Elche and has been cautioned at least six times in four of his last five league campaigns.
The move has taken the entire week to complete and the fee for Sánchez is believed to be just under £5 million, paid to Elche and the player's third-party owners. It's exactly the type of move that Villa fans have clamored for after Yacouba Sylla's poor season and at 28 years of age, La Roca provides Villa with meaningful first-team and international experience—he's been capped 48 times by Colombia—but doesn't burden them with a player past his prime.
Sánchez becomes the second Colombian currently in the Premier League—goalkeeper David Ospina signed for Arsenal earlier this summer—and the second Colombian to wear the claret and blue after fan favourite Juan Pablo Angel.
While Sánchez likely won't feature for Villa tomorrow against Stoke City, it can be expected that he'll be in the starting XI when Paul Lambert's men host Newcastle United next weekend. The Villa manager called the transfer "a great coup" for the club and Sánchez said that it's "very important for (him) to be at Villa for (him) and (his) family." Moving down the centre of the pitch—when fully healthy—Aston Villa now have Brad Guzan, Ron Vlaar, Fabian Delph, Carlos Sánchez, and of course, Christian Benteke. Things are looking up at Villa Park and supporters can afford to get a little excited about the team's prospects for once.