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Aston Villa pursuing their 25-year-old summer target in January would be quite a useful move

Why Aston Villa should reignite interest in Jake Cooper

According to a report from Football Insider (h/t Birmingham Live) back in February, Aston Villa had identified Millwall centre-back, Jake Cooper, as a potential target for the summer window. However, Dean Smith’s side largely focused on bolstering their attack this summer, meaning that rumours linking Cooper with a move to Villa Park passed by without a deal actually materialising.

Profile

A youth graduate of Reading, Jake Cooper burst on to the scene in the Championship during the 2014-15 season and made 54 appearances for his boyhood club in all competitions before joining Millwall on loan in January 2017.

Cooper played a key role during the second half of the 2016-17 campaign as the Lions secured promotion to the Championship from League One and has since established himself as a top performer in the second-tier over the past few years. The 25-year-old has amassed 166 appearances for Millwall in all competitions, registering 14 goals and 13 assists.

Jake Cooper backs Millwall strikers to regain scoring touch | News Shopper
Jake Cooper has made 176 career appearances in the Championship (Getty Images)

Cooper looks ready to shine in the Premier League

Aston Villa added right-back Matty Cash and goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to bolster their defensive unit before the summer deadline. They conceded as many as 67 goals in the Premier League last season. 

The Villans have made a stunning start to the 2020-21 campaign with three wins out of three, including a 7-2 thrashing of reigning champions Liverpool. Dean Smith’s have shipped just 2 goals in their three opening league fixtures so far, with both new signings playing a key role in easing the club’s issues at the back.

Indeed, Villa have shown considerable improvement at both ends of the pitch, but it’s too early to pass judgement, with plenty of games still remaining. Although they aren’t really light in their centre-back options, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to bring in further reinforcements at the heart of the defence in January.

Leeds United head coach's set-piece admission is just what Millwall want to hear – with Jake Cooper confident they can force deadball situations at Den – South London News
Cooper had been linked with a move to Aston Villa earlier in the year (Getty Images)

Smith has rotated the likes of Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa, and Kortney Hause to good effect so far, while Bjorn Engels has been deemed surplus to requirements. Hence, there is certainly more than enough room for a fourth centre-back to come through the door and stake his claim for a place in the set-up.

To that end, Aston Villa should consider reigniting their interest in Jake Cooper when the transfer window reopens in January. Smith needs to replace Engels if he doesn’t see him as a part of his plans moving forward, and offloading the Belgian would free up enough room for a new arrival. That would help maintain the right kind of depth and balance in the club’s central defensive options.

The 25-year-old has been among the best defenders in the second-tier over the past few seasons, catching the eye with his consistently impressive displays. With more than 170 career appearances in the Championship under his belt, Cooper has certainly done enough to warrant a shot at proving his credentials in the Premier League.

Cooper looks back on Wigan battle - News - Millwall FC
Source: Getty Images

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 Verdict

Aston Villa completing a potential deal for Jake Cooper in January is unlikely to evoke too much excitement among the fans, but he could be a really useful addition to the club’s backline. Standing at 6ft.6 inches with a towering frame, Cooper has shown his efficiency in keeping attackers at bay in Championship and he now looks ready to make the step up to a higher level. 

At 25, the Bracknell-born defender still has his best years ahead of him, so he could well be a good long-term signing for Dean Smith’s side.

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