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Aston Villa Opinion: should the Lions sign Nemanja Radoja for free

Back in January, a report from Spanish outlet El Desmarque claimed that Aston Villa were closing in on the signing of Celta Vigo’s Serbian international midfielder Nemanja Radoja. However, a move to Villa Park did not quite materialize for the La Liga ace and he stayed put at Celta Vigo, with his contract set to expire in the summer.

The 26-year-old defensive midfielder rose through the youth ranks at Serbian club Vojvodina and made 69 appearances for his boyhood club from 2011 to 2014, helping his team to victory in the Serbian Cup.

The Serb joined Celta Vigo in 2014 and has made a total of 146 appearances for the Spanish outfit in all competitions, scoring once and assisting a further five, though he hasn’t featured in a single game in the 2018-19 season.

The 2-cap Serbian international is not one of the household names in Europe but he has plenty of La Liga and Europa League experience, which should attract a lot of clubs in the summer when his contract at Celta Vigo expires.

Villa missed the chance to snap him up in a bargain deal in January but they might get the chance to have another crack at the 26-year-old in the summer, given that he hasn’t signed a new deal and is likely to be available for free at the end of the season.

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Essentially a defensive midfielder by trade, Radoja is a useful all-around player with good tackling and intercepting skills, while also possessing an impressive passing range.

The Serb doesn’t offer a lot in terms of attack but he excels with his intelligent distribution and cuts out the opposition’s attacks to win the ball back for his team. Good in the air and pretty quick across the ground, Radoja is an all-action midfield enforcer who retains possession well and holds things together for his team in central midfield.

To put things into perspective, Aston Villa would do themselves a world of good by reigniting their interest in the 26-year-old Serbian midfielder and the chance to lure to Villa Park for absolutely nothing should appeal to the Lions.

Radoja, though, is likely to have plenty of suitors when his contract expires and Villa would have to work extremely hard to convince him to join the club. The job might be easier if they manage to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The Lions have got themselves back in the promotion playoff race with a series of impressive performances since the start of the last month, winning each of their last 8 games in the Championship.

The acquisition of Kortney Hause from Wolves and Tyrone Mings from Bournemouth has helped Smith shore up his team’s leaky backline, which was a major area of concern for the club earlier in the season. With momentum on their side, Villa have a great chance of securing promotion to the Premier League if they manage to keep up the intensity.

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However, they would need to dip into the transfer window in the summer for reinforcements irrespective of where they play their football next season.

Defensive midfield is one area where Villa lack depth and quality. John McGinn and Conor Hourihane have provided stability to the midfield, while also contributing with some valuable goals and assists, but Villa do not have a quality holding midfielder to shield the rearguard.

Birkir Bjarnason has fallen down the pecking order while Glen Whelan and Mile Jedinak are both above the age of 34. Henri Lansbury has struggled for form and fitness and the Lions just don’t seem to have too many alternatives in that position.

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Hence, the arrival of someone like Radoja would solve a key issue for Dean Smith and Villa should look at the possibility of getting their hands on the Serbian for free in the summer.

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