Emery eyes Plan B as Villa move on from failed pursuit of £45m target

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery has reportedly set his sights on Real Betis winger Luiz Henrique as an alternative transfer target after Athletic Bilbao ace Nico Williams turned down a move.

Villa are expected to be active in the closing stages of the January transfer window, with Emery approving of exits for the likes of Danny Ings and Morgan Sanson as he continues to mould the Villa squad into his own.

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While we’ve strengthened too with the signings of Alex Moreno and Jhon Duran, there is a lack of depth and competition in certain positions and so it’s likely that we are assessing options to bring in before the deadline.

Emery has stressed on several occasions though that we will only sign players this month if they significantly improve what he already has at his disposal, and so it remains to be seen if deals can be deal for those individuals.

According to the Daily Mail’s Dominic King, Villa have failed with a club-record bid to sign Williams from Bilbao, as although we were ready to pay his £45m release clause, the 20-year-old doesn’t want to leave his current club right now.

With that in mind, it’s added that Emery has now set his sights on Henrique instead, and it remains to be seen if we have any better luck in prising him away from the La Liga outfit, having already done business with them this month to sign Moreno.

While Williams predominantly plays on the right wing but can be used on the opposite flank too, he has impressed thus far despite his young age, having scored eight goals and provided five assists in 64 appearances for Bilbao after coming through the youth ranks.

As for Henrique, 22, after making the move from Fluminense to Betis last summer, he has contributed three goals and five assists in 24 outings for his current club, and so it’s not a surprise that he has attracted interest from Villa.

Based on the report from King, it seems as though Villa will have no choice but to move on from our pursuit of Williams, although we could perhaps revisit it in the summer if Emery is adamant about adding him to his squad, but it’s unclear if the player’s position will change by then.

For now though, having publicly revealed earlier this month that he feels as though he needs a winger, as per Sky Sports, Henrique could be a viable solution for the Villa boss, but time will tell if Betis are willing to sell another key player to us this month.