Aston Villa owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens paid a visit to Unai Emery and the players in the dressing room after the 3-0 win over AFC Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon. It was the first time the pair had both been in attendance at Villa Park since Emery took over from Steven Gerrard and the stop-by had a positive impact.
Dominating the game from start to finish, it was one of the most impressive performances so far in the Emery era – the perfect timing perhaps as the owners looked on in the stands. Recruiting new players in the summer is very much a target for Villa’s new boss and the victory will have only gained him more confidence from the board.
NSWE have laid out plenty of transfer funds over the last few years, with at least €100 million spent on new signings in each of the last four seasons. With last campaign’s financial records showing significant losses since Villa’s return to the Premier League, NSWE would perhaps be reluctant to splash yet more money on players, but it seems their support of Emery is utmost.
“It is very important – it is the first time I am here that they both came,” Emery said after Saturday’s win. “I really appreciate a lot the visit and the players are the same. I think it’s good to be together here sometimes and today is a very good day as they watched our victory and enjoyed it with the team.
“We are the professional coaches and players. We have to be together and the supporters they are here - they are really owners of the club because we are playing for them. Nassef and Eden are here respecting our supporters - we have to be together trying to do good work and enjoy,” Emery continued.
The head coach’s body language was positive as he discussed the visit from NSWE, suggesting all is certainly well behind the scenes at the football club. This is a good sign as The Lions look to improve their squad in a few months’ time with European qualification possibly on the horizon for seasons to come.
Players that have been linked with a move to Villa Park so far have mainly been big-money transfer targets, including Tammy Abraham, Luiz Henrique, Denzel Dumfries, Nico Williams and Kieran Tierney. Soon-to-be free agent Raphael Guerreiro has also been targeted but he would likely demand a high salary. It is a good job, then, that Emery is impressing those handling the cash.
What positions are Villa looking at improving?
In January a steady and patient approach was taken towards making new signings, with focus very much on getting in the right players rather than bringing in panic buys. There were just two fresh additions at Villa Park as versatile left-back Alex Moreno joined from Real Betis and young striker Jhon Duran switched the MLS for the Premier League.
Emery was vocal about wanting to sign a “winger with new characteristics” but moves fell through for various reasons, including an injury to Gerard Deulofeu and a player rejection from Athletic Bilbao forward Nico Williams. Villa resorted to recalling Bertrand Traore from his loan spell in Turkey to make do until the end of the season, but the market is expected to be revisited for this position.
Centre forward is another area likely to be improved, even with the current fine form of Ollie Watkins. No replacement was brought in for Danny Ings following his departure for West Ham United and the Lions are rather light in the position. If Watkins were to get injured, lots of pressure would be thrown on the young shoulders of Duran – something that could hinder his development.
There has been plenty of speculation that Emery is unsatisfied with his full-back options, meaning some movement could take place here. Midfield is another area that could be strengthened as the likes of Morgan Sanson and Marvelous Nakamba will likely move on with permanent transfers in the summer. Whichever way you look at it, Villa are likely in for a busy window.