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After spending £22.25m to sign this 22-year-old ace, Aston Villa must focus on their £30m pursuit of this defender

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Aston Villa Opinion: Wesley Moraes and Lewis Dunk could be the marquee signings that the Lions need to ensure Premier League survival

According to The Sun, Aston Villa have broken their club-record fee by forking out a staggering £22.25 million to complete the signing of Brazilian striker Wesley Moraes, with reports claiming that the 22-year-old is set to pen a five-year deal at Villa Park in the next 24 hours, subject to international clearance and work permit.

If Villa manage to get this one over the line, it would eclipse the £18 million that they paid to Sunderland for former England striker Darren Bent.

The Sun understands that Villa beat off competition from a number of clubs, including Bayer Leverkusen, Lazio and Guangzhou Evergrande, as well as Premier League outfits Newcastle United, West Ham and Arsenal, to finally get their hands on the coveted 22-year-old centre-forward.

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Moraes was expected to be a hot property in the summer transfer window following his goalscoring heroics for Belgian heavyweights Clube Brugge this past season. The Brazilian registered as many as 17 goals and 10 assists in 48 appearances across all competitions, playing a key role as Clube Brugge finished runners-up to Genk in the Belgian top-flight.

Dean Smith was under pressure to sign an out-and-out centre-forward following the return of star loanee Tammy Abraham to his parent club Chelsea. Abraham netted 26 goals in all competitions this past season to propel the Lions to a promotion-winning campaign in the Championship, as Smith’s men overcame Derby County in the playoff finals at Wembley last month.

Abraham was an ever-present for Villa up front in the Championship but they needed to bring in a like-for-like replacement to cover for his departure and it looks like they have found one in Wesley Moraes. The Brazilian has been compared to former Villa hitman Christian Benteke and Man United striker Romelu Lukaku due to his towering 6ft. 3-inch physique, although he has a bit more flair and a touch of South American elegance to his game.

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Noted for his supreme aerial prowess, intelligent movement, poaching instincts and incredible strength, Moraes also has the necessary level of pace, sharpness and agility to taste success at the highest level. The 22-year-old seemingly has all the attributes to fit seamlessly into the style of play prevalent in England and Villa would probably find themselves clear of the relegation zone if he manages to produce even half of what he did in Belgium this season.

Meanwhile, Wesley Moraes is not the only big name to be linked with a move to Villa Park, with Smith also plotting a sensational £30 million swoop for Brighton and Hove Albion and England centre-back Lewis Dunk as a part of his summer spending spree. (h/t Sun)

Dunk’s links with Villa is indicative of the fact that the Lions are looking for an overall squad upgrade in a bid to ensure survival in the Premier League and the towering centre-back is understandably the latest addition to the manager’s wishlist.

Villa have already struck deals for Birmingham City’s Jota, Wolves loanee Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi, whilst having player’s like Matt Targett and Jack Butland on their shortlist. (h/t Sun)

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Vulnerability at the back was a major concern for Villa in the earlier stages of this past season in the Championship before the acquisition of Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause on loan in January transformed their backline into one of the most formidable in the division.

They have released players like Mile Jedinak, Alan Hutton and Tommy Elphick, and while that still leaves them with James Chester and Hause as viable options at centre-back, the Lions need to add more Premier League experience to their backline. And Brighton’s Lewis Dunk certainly fits the bill.

The 27-year-old 6ft. 4-inch centre-back is regarded as one of the best defenders outside the big-six in the Premier League and he certainly ticks the box in terms of experience as well, having racked up over 270 appearances for the Seagulls in all competitions over the course of 9 years.

Dunk perfectly combines the virtues of an old-school English centre-back and a modern-day ball-playing defender and it would be fair to say that he has been one of Brighton’s best players since their promotion to the top flight a couple of seasons back.

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Villa probably won’t go all out to complete a permanent deal for Mings if they manage to sign Dunk this summer and one can get the feeling that the 27-year-old would be an upgrade on the Bournemouth man.

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Villa have already shown plenty of ambition in the transfer market upon their promotion to the Premier League following a three-year absence and it is a no-brainer that the arrival of marquee signings like Wesley Moraes and Lewis Dunk would go a long way towards securing their future in the top-flight.

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Aston Villa would hardly benefit by signing this 29-year-old striker blowing hot and cold for PL rivals

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Aston Villa Opinion: Charlie Austin would add little value to the Lions attacking ranks next season

According to Birmingham Live, Aston Villa have been credited with an interest in Southampton striker Charlie Austin, with reports claiming that the Saints are keen to cash in on the 29-year-old out-of-form attacker this summer.

Austin, though, is not the only Southampton player to have attracted interest from Villa Park, with the same report claiming that left-back Matt Targett has also been lined up by the Lions as a potential target.

Charlie Austin has slipped down the pecking order at St.Mary’s since the arrival of manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and the 29-year-old was forced to settle for a place on the bench in the second half of this past campaign.

As well as Shane Long, Austin endured a dreadful season at Southampton and failed to make any kind of impact, scoring just thrice in 27 appearances for the Saints in all competitions.

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Taking that lacklustre strike rate into account, Southampton’s willingness to offload him looks quite reasonable and it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure out that Austin has largely underwhelmed over the past couple of seasons. His tally of 20 goals in 81 appearances for the Saints in all competitions till date makes decent readings but, in all honesty, his form in recent times has been really poor.

Austin played non-league football for the likes of Kintbury Rangers, Hungerford Town and Poole Town before earning a move to Swindon Town in League One.

His stellar performances in the third-tier earned him a move to Burnley in the Championship back in 2011 and it was at Turf Moor that Austin carved out a big reputation for himself, scoring 44 goals in 90 appearances for the Clarets in the second-tier over the course of two seasons.

The Berkshire-born forward switched boats to join QPR back in 2013 and fired the club to promotion with 19 goals in the Championship in his very first season. Austin immediately made the step up to the Premier League in the following season and struck as many as 18 goals in his first ever campaign in the top-flight.

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With his stocks soaring sky-high, Southampton swooped for the centre-forward in the summer of 2015 but he has never been able to replicate that kind of success at St.Mary’s over the course of his four seasons at the club.

To put things into perspective, Charlie Austin can be labelled as a one-season wonder in the Premier League and he has been nowhere near his best in recent times, meaning that it would be a big risk for any club to sign him. That risk factor could potentially get amplified in case of a newly-promoted club like Aston Villa and the Lions surely need to look at better options in the market if they are really serious about staying up in the top-flight.

Aston Villa currently find themselves short of options up front following the departure of star loanee Tammy Abraham to Chelsea, although the club-record £22.25 million acquisition of Wesley Moraes is likely to have brought a sigh of relief to the fans at Villa Park.

However, one can get the feeling that Villa still need another decent back-up forward in their ranks to ensure that they don’t find themselves in trouble in the Premier League next season in an event of an injury to Moraes.

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Charlie Austin, with his wealth of Premier League experience, would certainly be a good understudy to Moraes but Villa should be aware of his waning influence and advancing years.

The 29-year-old offered little at Southampton in the previous campaign and one can get the feeling that a fitter and younger striker would fit the bill better, even if that presents a relatively unproven option at the Premier League level.

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Aston Villa certainly have the finances to bring in some top-quality players, and while they need to avoid over-spending like Fulham did last summer, the Lions need to demonstrate their ambitions by looking beyond underperforming and mediocre players like Austin.

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Aston Villa signing this teenager on loan from London giants would help them find a solid utility player

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Aston Villa Opinion: Lions should look at Ethan Ampadu as a versatile and utility squad player

According to The Guardian, Aston Villa are exploring the possibility of signing Chelsea starlet Ethan Ampadu in a season-long loan deal this summer, with reports claiming that several other clubs are also keen to secure the Welshman’s services.

With Maurizio Sarri’s departure to Juventus looking inevitable, Ampadu is yet to find out what plans Chelsea have in store for him next season. The 18-year-old has a contract at Stamford Bridge until the summer of 2023 but he might want to move out on loan this summer in order to gain more first-team experience elsewhere, having played more games for Wales than Chelsea over the course of the last 12 months.

The Guardian understands that Villa were keen to take Ampadu on loan in the Championship last summer but Sarri wanted to keep the promising youngster at Stamford Bridge as a part of Chelsea’s first-team scheme of things. However, despite adopting such a stance, the manager only handed him three starts- 2 in the FA Cup and one in the Europa League.

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However, with a managerial change at Stamford Bridge on the cards and Ampadu still very much in the developmental phase of his career, a loan move elsewhere might as well materialize for the highly-rated youngster this summer. He is by no means a finished article but a move to Villa could work wonders for his development, given the presence of Chelsea legend John Terry in the coaching ranks and more first-team opportunities on offer.

A versatile defensive asset, Ampadu is capable of playing both central midfield and centre-back roles for his team. The 18-year-old Welshman has shown a level of maturity that defies his tender years, both in terms of calmness and composure in possession and technical abilities on the ball. The Exeter-born starlet boasts of a wonderful range of passing, which allows him to control the game from a deep position in the midfield and switch the play to set up attacks from the back.

To put things into perspective, Aston Villa have already made the headlines with deals for Wesley Moraes, Kortney Hause and Jota but they need to add more players to their ranks before the Premier League season gets underway.  

It is true that they should prioritise signing players with top-level experience but bringing in a promising youngster like Ethan Ampadu won’t do them much harm, and given his versatility to operate in both central midfield and central defence, the Lions might as well look at him as someone who could possibly add a little bit more cover in multiple areas of the pitch.

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Villa are short of options in central defence following the return of Axel Tuanzebe to Man United and the release of Tommy Elphick. A permanent deal for Bournemouth loanee Tyrone Mings is yet to be finalized, and while James Chester remains an experienced option at the back, Ampadu’s presence would offer Dean Smith with more flexibility.

On the other hand, Villa can also expect Ampadu to compete with the likes of John McGinn and Conor Hourihane for a spot in central midfield, given that the Lions have already released Mile Jedinak and Glen Whelan.

Realistically speaking, Ampadu is unlikely to play regularly at Chelsea next season, despite the Blues currently facing a two-window transfer ban. Even if a loan move to Villa Park does materialize for the 18-year-old, he is unlikely to play a significant first-team role for the Lions in the Premier League, but the chances of him getting regular minutes at Aston Villa would certainly be a lot more than at Chelsea.

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Ampadu is at a stage in his career where he needs to play regularly in order to continue his development and work on his flaws. Keeping that in mind, a move to Villa Park might just be the breakthrough that he needs to carve out some kind of a reputation for himself.

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Aston Villa signing this prodigious 19-year-old Spaniard would help boost their attacking unit for the long run

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Aston Villa Opinion: Lions should beat off competition for Spanish starlet Andres Martin

According to claims from Spanish website Cordopolis, as cited by Birmingham Live, Aston Villa have been credited with an interest in Cordoba CF starlet Andres Martin.

The 19-year-old prodigy registered an impressive 6 goals and 4 assists in 29 appearances for Cordoba in the Segunda Division, the second-tier of Spanish football, as the club finished 21st in the standings and suffered relegation to the third-tier.

However, Martin’s heroics in his impressive breakthrough season has not gone unnoticed, with the Birmingham Live claiming that Villa are expected to face stiff competition from the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Rayo Vallecano, Sevilla, as well as Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt in their pursuit of the talented 19-year-old winger.

Birmingham Live understands that Madrid and Barcelona are prepared to offer the teenager a chance to continue his development in their youth setup, although Sevilla are the only club to have come up with a formal offer for the 19-year-old.

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Sevilla have tabled a €2 million bid for Martin but Cordoba CF are holding out for at least €3 million to part ways with their prized asset following his impressive breakthrough season. However, it is understood that they are under pressure to balance the books after getting relegated and Martin is likely to end up in a bigger club this summer.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa have made the headlines with the club-record £22 million signing of Brazilian centre-forward Wesley Moraes from Belgian outfit Genk. Prior to the completion of the marquee signing, Villa set the ball rolling in the transfer window with deals for Jota, Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi earlier in the summer.

Villa continue to be linked with an array of players in England and abroad, with Southampton’s Matt Targett, Brighton’s Lewis Dunk, Tyrone Mings, Leeds United ace Kalvin Phillips and Stoke City’s Jack Butland all reportedly on Dean Smith’s wishlist for the summer (h/t Birmingham Mail).

The Lions have already made a strong statement of intent with the signing of Moraes and they are apparently looking at a few more arrivals, as Smith tries to ensure that he has all his bases covered heading into the Premier League.

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To put things into perspective, Aston Villa’s links with Cordoba’s breakout star Andres Martin is unlikely to create too much noise amongst the fans at Villa Park. However, the Lions should also consider swooping for some young and promising starlets in the market to add more competition to their youth ranks and the 19-year-old certainly fits the bill.

In all probability, Andres Martin would go into the development squad at Villa Park even if a move does materialize this summer. Having spent three seasons in the second-tier, Villa are unlikely to play gambles by fielding little-known youngsters in the Premier League, but Martin might as well get a chance to impress later in the campaign.

The Lions currently lack adequate depth in their wide options following the release of veteran Albert Adomah, with El Ghazi and 20-year-old youngster Andre Green being the only senior options out wide. Martin, who is predominantly a left-footed player, likes to operate on the left but he is more than capable of playing on the right, as well as up front as a centre-forward.

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Andres Martin’s talent and potential were there for everybody to witness in his debut season in the Spanish second-tier and Villa have every reason to look at him as a player for the future.

Bringing in a few promising youngsters would increase competition for places in the youth ranks, and that said, they should look to fend off interest from some of the top Spanish clubs in their pursuit of the highly-rated 19-year-old.

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