Aston Villa boss Unai Emery has provided his first reaction to the news that the club has reached an agreement to sign Jhon Duran from Chicago Fire.
As per the club’s official statement on Monday, an agreement has been reached with Chicago Fire to sign the 19-year-old Colombian forward, and we await the completion of the formalities of the move before an announcement is made.
ESPN have reported that the transfer is worth an initial $18m [£14.75m] plus $3m in possible bonuses, and so based on that fee, the expectation is that Duran will be immediately integrated into the senior squad and Emery will have the chance to help him develop and improve his game to become a key player for Villa sooner rather than later.
Duran remains highly inexperienced, particularly at the top level, but he has impressed in MLS with eight goals and five assists in 27 appearances.
Having also been capped at senior level for Colombia, there is no doubt that he has potential and a bright future ahead of him, and Emery is unsurprisingly looking forward to working with the young striker and helping him unlock that potential in a Villa shirt.
“He has potential as a striker if he can develop like we are thinking he will do,” he told the media, as per Villa TV. “We can’t give him the responsibility, as a 19-year-old, to play as a striker in the Premier League against the best teams in the world.
“I want to help him firstly with his adaptation; hopefully that will happen quickly. I know that he’s coming as a 19-year-old and he will need time to know his teammates, our ideas, and playing against important players in every session here and against opposition teams.
“We are going to help him. The responsibility now, as a number nine and a striker, is for Watkins. We want to add him (Durán) to help us. I want to balance the squad by trying to get another striker but only with the idea to improve us.”
That is undoubtedly the sensible approach to take in order to remove pressure and responsibility from Duran’s shoulders, and allow the youngster to settle, adapt and acclimatise before expecting too much.
Nevertheless, it’s a big challenge for Emery and his coaching staff having now convinced the club to invest heavily in Duran, and so it’s hoped that he can help him through that process and we see exactly what it was that caught the Spanish tactician’s eye in the first place.
Meanwhile, the last comment from Emery is interesting too as it’s a big hint that we will still be active in the transfer window with trying to bring in another striker, particularly as it’s reported by The Telegraph that Danny Ings is set to join West Ham in a £15m move this week.
That will leave us short up top with Watkins now set to play a pivotal role leading the line, and if we are to adopt a patient approach with Duran, it will be interesting to see who comes in to complement Watkins and provide both competition and depth in that department, particularly in the short-term.