Welcome back to 7500 to Holte’s transfer round-up series! After several weeks of very little news on incoming transfers, it seems this week has seen the market stir a little.
With pre-season now underway and the Emile Smith Rowe saga finally resolved, Aston Villa will probably move quickly for a new attacking midfielder/winger to allow them to bed in before the season begins. On that front, the round-up today begins with none other than Leon Bailey.
Leon Bailey is of interest to Villa according to Adrian Kajumba and Tom Collomosse of the Daily Mail. Despite the poor track record of the paper, Collomosse has previously broken stories about Villa’s interest in Emile Smith Rowe, Ashley Young, as well as Emi Martinez last season, so he can be viewed as a source with growing reliability. Kajumba too is seen as one of the Mail’s more reliable journalists in regards to transfer news.
To punctuate this, Villa’s interest has been confirmed by the ever-reliable John Percy, however, his report indicates nothing is imminent and Bailey is one of a number of options being considered. Bayer Leverkusen are reportedly offering Bailey to Premier League clubs; likely in order to free up some transfer budget ahead of next season, having only made €6 million in sales so far this window.
If he were to join, Bailey would likely start on either wing with either Jack Grealish or Emi Buendia moving into the number 10 position. The player has played mostly on the wings, but provided cover for the center forward and the number 10 position as a second striker, getting 14 goals and 10 assists in the Bundesliga and Europa League last season.
As an attacking force, Bailey has blistering pace in which is something Villa could use more of as he possesses excellent dribbling ability and is an occasional direct set piece threat. Like many wingers, however, Bailey can drift in and out of form quickly and doesn’t make a large defensive contribution. The 2020/2021 season had been his most consistent season, contributing defensively as well, with 31% of his pressures being successful; rarely being dribbled past compared to other wingers.
Bailey is an exciting option that could compliment a multi-dimensional attacking four for Villa and has previously spoken about moving to the Premier League in the past. With his name being one of many considered by the club, fans should be excited about Villa’s next move. At this point though, it seems nothing is imminent, with reports about a £25 million bid being rejected appearing unfounded, however, this is one to keep an eye on for future updates.
Chances of Occurring: Currently a similar chance to a Rolando free-kick hitting row Z: 4/10.
Another attacking midfield/wing option rumored to be on Villa’s radar is Brazilian Paris Saint-Germain player, Rafinha, according to Turkish journalist Ekrem Konur. The 28-year-old could be on his way out of PSG only a year after signing for them due their change in management, with Lazio and AC Milan also rumored to be interested.
Rafinha fills in a more creative role and usually operates from the number 10 position or right wing, cutting in on this left or dropping into the midfield. This, however, would give him a lot of crossover with Emi Buendia’s role as seen in Villa’s opening preseason games, making this rumor look quite unlikely. Rafinha’s age and unimpressive goals and assists output (zero goals, five assists) in Ligue 1 would be of concern for Villa and doesn’t look to offer anything different when compared to Buendia or Traoré.
Chances of Occurring: Same chance that Villa’s 7-2 victory over Liverpool won’t be mentioned in Villa’s first televised match: 1/10.
Another rumor from questionable sources is Norwich City’s Todd Cantwell, who is in advanced talks according to Football Insider. The claim has subsequently been rubbished by Norwich sporting director, Stewart Webber. The midfielder doesn’t seem to be the profile of attacker Villa are looking for this window and Norwich would not be interested in selling another of their promotion winning attackers to Villa.
Chances of Occurring: Same as Football Insider actually having inside sources: 0/10.
With the departure of Tom Heaton, Villa are reportedly keen for another senior goalkeeper to supplement Martinez and Steer, with one rumor being Marcus Bettinelli as reported by the Daily Mail.
Bettinelli has a good catalog of experience in the English football pyramid — all of which has been with Fulham, but most recently representing Middlesbrough on loan before his contract ended with The Cottagers after 15 year stay. His only top flight experience, however, does not paint him in a great light as a struggling Fulham conceded 20 goals in his seven game stint between the sticks.
Arsenal and Chelsea are also reportedly interested in the keeper, but these, like Villa, are not solid links. As it stands, Bettinelli’s experience mostly comes in loan moves or inconsistent runs as Fulham’s number one, though this was the case for Villa’s undisputed number one, Emi Martinez, too before last season. Whether this experience puts him well ahead of play-off hero, Jed Steer, or Finnish youth prospect, Viljami Sinisalo, who is apparently highly rated by goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler, remains to be seen.
Chances of Occurring: As likely as social media is to have calm, reasonable responses to pre-season results: 1/10 .
Villa’s other depth issue is at center-back after the departure of Bjorn Engels. To replace him, Villa have been linked to Fenerbahçe player and Hungary international, Attila Szalai.
Szalai has been linked to a few moves away after Hungary impressed in the “group of death” at the Euros, but Villa’s interest in particular is unlikely. Any center-back coming into Villa will know about the consistent and solid pairing of Konsa and Mings.
Players at the age of 23 like Szalai may not want to come in as a third or fourth choice, with little chance of game time. The second reason Szalai is an unlikely prospect is the fact he is left footed and usually operates on that side of the pair. With this side already covered by Mings and Hause a right sided center-back seems like a far more credible target.
Chances of Occurring: Same chance as a team of Carragher’s actually working: 1/10.