Aston Villa consider £51m January transfer decision as Man City and Liverpool put on alert

Aston Villa’s plans for the winter transfer window are emerging - and there could be a reunion with Unai Emery and one of his former players.

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Aston Villa are amongst several Premier League clubs that are reportedly chasing the signing of Villarreal forward Alex Baena.

Reports in Spain, most specifically newspaper Fichajes claims that Villa, along with several of their league rivals are considering a move for Baena, who plays for Unai Emery's former club. The 22-year-old signed a five-year deal with the La Liga outfit in January, and as a result the release clause has been increased from €25m to €60m which is roughly around £51m.

It was reported back in September 2022 that Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal had held an interest in Baena, who can play anywhere across the front line. He is predominantly an attacking midfielder but can also play on the left-flank, as well as having spells as a central midfielder and a centre forward.

Baena this season has made four appearances for the Yellow Submarine with two assists and a goal. The 13-time Spain Under-21 international to date has seven goals and five assists in La Liga, whilst he has also played in the Europa Conference and the Europa Conference League. He has this week been on international duty with the Spanish national team but was an unused substitute in their 7-1 win over Georgia.

He will have been in the company of his former teammate Pau Torres, who earlier this summer moved to Villa Park from Villarreal for a reported £31.5m. Torres so far is the only player that has directly joined Villa from Emery’s former club Villarreal since the Spainiard was appointed head coach back in October 2022.

Villarreal recently had a change in management with Quique Setien sacked following a poor run of form, and replaced by 55-year-old Pacheta. Setien replaced Emery following his return to England last year, and Baena previously backed Emery’s decision to move to Villa.

“It was a professional decision, which everyone may not understand, but those of us who are part of this can understand it,” said Baena to Marca in November 2022.

“Emotionally, it left us a little shaken because we already had the work done, from many years together... it was a bit hard to resume everything with a new coach with a new system and a new game mentality.”