Rémi Garde might be taking inspiration from Newcastle United teams of years past when going into the January transfer window, looking to continue Aston Villa’s swoops on Ligue 1 talent with a move for Bordeaux’s Wahbi Khazri reported by French press Monday.
The 24-year-old attacking midfielder might not play at a priority position for Aston Villa, but he would bring one thing much needed from the midfield to Villa Park: goals. Since joining Bordeaux prior to last season, the Tunisian international has notched 14 goals from 49 Ligue 1 appearances, adding 11 assists to complete a résumé worthy of a Premier League move.
While there isn’t an offer on the table yet, it’s been suggested Villa will do so within the next couple days, looking to get a jumpstart on transfer proceedings when the January window opens in a week and a half. Khazri’s strong start to the season, where he notched four goals and five assists in the opening eight matches of Bordeaux’s league campaign, earned him attention from a number of different English clubs who might be fighting Villa for his services this window. Stoke City and Newcastle United are two names thrown around recently, while Everton have also been linked in the last few weeks.
What Villa can offer Khazri, presumably, is a regular spot in the starting XI. At this point, it doesn’t seem like Garde is bringing in depth players or ones to challenge the starters, rather ones to usurp them. For years, the Claret and Blues have been lacking a proper goalscorer in midfield — it’s part of what made the loss of Tom Cleverley, who may have been developing into just that, so difficult to deal with.
While Khazri has only scored once since September, his goal at the weekend against fellow Villa target Steve Mandanda gives hope he might be past struggles in form, ready to start firing again.
All things considered, Villa aren’t in a terrible spot in attacking midfield. But at the end of the day, flair players like Carles Gil and Jack Grealish might not do the club as much good when goals are required to escape the relegation scrap, with Khazri a potential upgrade from these two.
And like with Mandanda, Khazri would have a clause allowing him to leave Villa at season’s end if relegation does happen — it’s something that could help entice the Tunisian to B6, allowing him to grab first-team Premier League football and prove himself, all the while ensuring he won’t drop to the Championship because the mountain is just too high for Villa to climb.
The biggest concern, on my end, is Villa spending money on Khazri that they could be spending on a fullback, more central midfielder or striker. Attacking midfielder wouldn’t be what I’d call the priority position, and if spending there keeps Villa from getting other, more necessary targets, I’d maybe be against it.
But at the end of the day, Khazri appears to be a class signing that would benefit the club immensely both now, and in the future if the Villans were able to pull the miracle and avoid relegation. I’d be game.