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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.