Phil Vogel (@PBVogel)
One of the things I found most challenging about this question is the fact that accurate information is so difficult about this topic. There are countless players I wished Villa signed...but that is quite different. There’s a much longer list of players that I’m quite glad Villa didn’t sign (looking at you Josh Onomah + cash in exchange for Jack Grealish).
Anyhow, I’ll say Julian Alvarez before he signed the deal to head to Manchester City. There was alot of buzz in 2021 that Villa were after him, but apparently he wanted to go to the top right away...which he clearly did. The reports suggest international teammate Emi Martinez had a word with him...but alas it was not to be. But what a player he is, and could have been for Villa!
Aidan Mifsud (@aidanmsa)
If the question was about the “what if he hadn’t had a career-ending injury” player, my answer would be simple: Luc Nilis, a real “what if” sad moment for him and Aston Villa.
But of the players we were close to seeing in a Villa shirt, I’m going with Radamel Falcao. In 2008, while he was banging in the goals for River Plate and still virtually unknown outside of South America, Villa offered £5 million for him. Or perhaps he was offered to Martin O’Neill, and he wasn’t interested? There are two stories. Whatever the truth, Villa turned to Emile Heskey instead, who together with Marlon Harewood were tasked with scoring the goals that would take Villa into the Champions League. Villa fell just short, and a year later, O’Neill was out after not being backed in the transfer market by Randy Lerner, including losing James Milner and not getting Scott Parker.
What if Falcao had been the difference maker? What if Villa had played in the Champions League? What if that Champions League revenue had attracted more players like Falcao to Villa and convinced O’Neill to stay longer? And how great would it have been to have another Colombian fan favourite so soon after Juan Pablo Angel?
Oliver Hawthorn (@AVFCOliver)
The one player that has been linked to Villa in recent years that I really wanted us to sign, but we didn’t is Joao Felix.
He was linked in the January window of 2023 when Emery first came in and he’d just had a terrific World Cup for Portugal playing in support of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Emery even said that he was interested in signing him, but he ended up going to Chelsea on loan and being a rare bright spark in a terrible campaign for Chelsea in 2022/2023. I thought he looked sharp and creative every time he played for them during his loan spell.
I think if he had signed for Villa during that window then we’d be playing in the Europa League now instead of the Conference League; he’d have been the difference maker in that support striker role next to Watkins.
As it happens, Moussa Diaby has been a great signing for that position, but I’d have loved to have seen Felix in claret and blue.
He’s made an excellent start to life at Barcelona after joining them on loan from Atletico Madrid in the summer, playing in pretty much every game so far this season and has grabbed three goals and three assists, which includes two goals in their Champions League campaign thus far.