Emery linked with interest in Spanish ace to bolster Villa midfield

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery would reportedly ‘love’ to sign Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Merino as he eyes new signings.

The Spanish tactician guided us to back-to-back Premier League wins prior to the World Cup break as he made a positive start in charge, and he’ll be looking to build on that when domestic action resumes next month.

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While he has maintained publicly that his focus is getting the best out of his current underperforming squad, there will no doubt be discussions being had and plans being made over potential transfers to strengthen his squad and allow him to stamp his mark on it with his own players.

Time will tell if that process begins as early as January, but according to Mundo Deportivo, Merino is said to be a player that Emery that admires and would ‘love’ to bring to Villa.

The 26-year-old has made 173 appearances for Sociedad after previous spells at Osasuna, Newcastle Utd and Borussia Dortmund, while he has 11 caps at senior level for Spain after making his debut in 2020.

Standing at 6ft 2′ and predominantly used as a central midfielder in a defensive role, he would arguably fit the system that Emery is trying to implement at Villa well, while he would bring more solidity and physical presence in that department moving forward as it’s something we have lacked for some time.

It’s added in the report above that Merino’s current contract runs until 2025 with suggestions that Sociedad are keen to review his situation and agree an extension, while Villa would potentially have to trigger a €60m release clause to prise him away from the La Liga outfit and might struggle to convince him in our current standing.

Nevertheless, with Emery now at the helm coupled with the backing that he will receive in the transfer market from the hierarchy, it remains to be seen if firstly Merino is a priority target, and if so, if we can strike an agreement with both the club and player.

With Douglas Luiz, Boubacar Kamara, Leander Dendoncker, Morgan Sanson and others already available to Emery, Villa do have plenty of options in midfield. Nevertheless, the Villa boss will no doubt be making his assessments and judgements in the coming weeks to determine who will and who won’t fit into his plans moving forward to allow him to identify where reinforcements are needed.