Another day, another rumour - however, we’re bringing you this one as it’s not just your average 20-goal a season League One striker!
Aston Villa are being linked with a move for Franco Soldano of CA Unión Santa Fé, currently 3rd in the Argentine Primera Division. Franco has helped them rise up the table with a goal every other game, that’s 6 through 12 so far, with 2 assists. He’s a striker with his stock on the rise.
The rumors stem from a meeting held between Soldano’s agent and the president of Unión Santa Fé. Franco has hit good form this season, and is becoming the focus of the team - so it’s only natural that his future would be discussed.
It’s worth noting that Soldano was linked to both Udinese and Chievo Verona last month, so he isn’t exactly out of Villa’s league despite the relative prestige of the Argentine Primera Division.
El Litoral, a local Santa Fé publication have valued the striker at around 5 million Argentine Pesos, which is £2 million pounds give or take. That’s a VERY affordable fee for Aston Villa, who could probably stretch to a net spend of £5 million through the course of the January transfer window.
In terms of a work permit, Brexit is yet to destroy any hope of a move, and Franco is a dual citizen - holding an Italian passport according to that same newspaper. This makes that interest from the mentioned Italian clubs a bit more legit, however his English is meant to be very good - and having held a trial in England at one point before - it seems that there is indeed at least interest from both the Premier League and the Championship. However, the paper have linked EVERY single Championship team to Soldano in that same article, which might show that a move to Birmingham City is as likely as a move to Villa.
There’s a lot to like about Franco Soldano. He’s a hard worker, he scores goals, he is good in the air and from what I’ve seen, he has a knack for getting into the right positions, something which is invaluable in the Championship.
What about the eye test? We can grab a few 400p YouTube videos and they show the same things - but bad football isn’t shown in YouTube highlights is it? And it’s only really something seen at games. However the flipside to this is that Soldano’s off the ball work can’t really be appreciated on TV. He seems to be VERY similar to Keinan Davis, and if this rumour is legit, Villa’s scouting team deserve a shout-out.
However, the issue here? Agents are involved. The Argentine Primera isn’t this rich exclave of wealth. It’s not a pub league by any stretch of the imagination, but the best players in this division will be shopped to clubs in Italy and Spain like there is no tomorrow. If a move to England can be worked by his reps, then it might force Unión’s hands. Franco’s contract expires in 2019, so an extension or at least talk of an extension is clearly on the cards. As we saw with Keinan Davis, namedropping clubs can ensure that you are dealt with seriously by your current contract holders. It’s a typical negotiation tactic and one that works very well.
As for the league? Aston Villa have shopped here before with good success. Their record signing until Darren Bent strolled along was one Juan Pablo Angel, signed from River Plate. A big coup for Villa’s scouting back then, and it could very well be the same case now for AVFC. The big difference was Angel was scoring big goals for a team winning trophies.
It is almost certain that Soldano would probably prefer a move to Italy - however it is pretty clear that English clubs have at least been notified about Soldano by his agent. There is still another barrier though - It’s highly likely that Unión would look to hold onto their man until the end of the season for obvious reasons! Letting him go at this early stage would be almost disastrous to their aims, so they should really be looking to bump his price up. That won’t stop a club from Europe who really wants Soldano, though - because their spending power, by default, will be rather powerful, even more so with the power of the Pound and Euro against the Peso.
Soldano would be a very good signing for Aston Villa, but there’s a number of stumbling blocks here that make it uncomfortable for me to say that this is a done deal. It’s not. Anyone saying that this transfer is a go either has incredible intimate knowledge of the situation, or is making it up. The link is there, and I’d venture to say that Aston Villa have been contacted by Soldano’s representatives - however the ball is in their court and they won’t be making a move until their festive fixtures are over. That being said, it’s a move I’d encourage them to make, especially if they are looking to help Keinan Davis out.