Tim Sherwood might be on the verge of signing another talented, somewhat-costly youngster to bolster his midfield.
TMW, an Italian outlet, reported Aston Villa have reached an agreement on the transfer of 21-year-old Sergi Darder, a defensive midfielder and Spanish youth international from Málaga. I’ve seen the ballparks for £7 million and £40k/week thrown around on Twitter by a couple people, which would seem fair for a kid who already has 63 La Liga appearances six months before his 22nd birthday.
Obviously, there’s always something nice about being linked with youth, and Darder would certainly help bolster the club in that aspect. He’s obviously highly-rated at Málaga, with Roma and Inter reportedly interested as well, and there’s a certain level to which it all makes sense; Sherwood is a noted believer in youth (as am I), and the club are set to have a lot of cash to throw around if the Christian Benteke deal with Liverpool goes through.
But, of course, we all kind of figured Villa were, generally-speaking, set in the centre of the park. The club now have a quartet of players — Fabian Delph, Idrissa Gueye, Carlos Sánchez and Ashley Westwood — who are all first-team quality, and adding a fifth to the group could create more of a logjam. (That’s not to mention the return of Gary Gardner, who could still play a part.)
We’ll expect Delph and Gueye to play, so would it be realistic for Sherwood to bring in Darder, who often gets forward at Málaga, popping up for four goals this year, to play in front of Sánchez and Westwood? In some sense, yes. It’s hard to turn down the notion of an upgrade at any specific position coming off the heels of a 17th-place finish. Both La Roca and Ashley are solid players, but they’re far from irreplaceable. Villa can’t turn down the opportunity to improve at every position on the pitch, and there’s probably a fair chance Darder would be an improvement.
The biggest issue, perhaps, would be if Villa move to formations that don’t feature three central midfielders, like, for instance, a 4-2-3-1; this probably works if Sherwood stays with the diamond midfield he closed the season with, but it could handcuff the club to get its best XI on the pitch.
There is, of course, a healthy debate over how much money Villa have to spend, and whether or not blowing £9 million this year on another central midfielder is a need, rather than a luxury. Herbert raised it in our staff chat room, but there’s a level to which Villa maybe should be lining up a new striker before they head for another young player with talent. That’s not to say Darder isn’t a solid target, but I think we’d all feel a lot better if Benteke’s replacement was on the way in with him.
Let us know in the comments what you think of a potential move for the kid; he has scored in his only appearance at Villa Park, after all!