Aston Villa won’t be signing £30m Barcelona transfer target - but there’s an alternative

Aston Villa won’t be signing a Barcelona transfer target but there is an alternative La Liga midfielder Unai Emery is looking at bringing to Villa Park.

Barcelona midfielder Franck Kessie’s agent has ruled out a January transfer amid reported interest from Aston Villa. The Ivory Coast international, who only signed for Barca in the summer, has also been the subject of intrigue from Serie A rivals Inter Milan and AC Milan.

Kessie has struggled since signing for Barcelona as he has made just seven appearances in La Liga, playing only 17% of the minutes available to him. Things have been a little better in the Champions League, with one goal in six matches, but the 25-year-old has been a shadow of his former self.

Before leaving AC Milan on a free transfer, Kessie earned a global reputation as one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the world. He made a staggering 223 appearances for the Rossoneri, scoring 37 goals and contributing 16 assists - all while also maintaining plenty of consistency on a defensive front.

It was reported widely that Villa were keen on Kessie to hand him a career revival, but agent George Atangana has ruled out any move, no matter what the club. “He’s really happy at Barcelona,” Atangana told journalist Pasquale Guarro, via Fabrizio Romano.

“It was his biggest dream to join Barça. Franck’s now adapting to a new football style, Barça & Xavi are happy with him. Kessié won’t leave in January - stories on AC Milan are fake.”

No Villa Park switch to come for Kessie, then, but there is another option the Lions have been looking at. Atletico Madrid midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia was close to making a Villa move in the summer under the management of Steven Gerrard, and now Unai Emery is reportedly keen to reignite the interest.

Franck Kessie won’t be making a transfer move to Aston Villa this winter.

Atletico could do with freeing up funds, and with Kondogbia only featuring in 57% of their starting lineups this season, the Central African could be one of those on the chopping block. His current market value, according to Transfermarkt, is around €20 million (£17.2 million).

The Villans could do with some new additions given their disappointing start to the season - as they currently sit in 12th position in the Premier League. Things looked even worse for Villa before Emery took the reins off Gerrard, as they were down just a single point above the relegation zone.

There has been a real resurgence since the four-time Europa League-winning manager came in, with two successive league wins against Manchester United and Brighton & Hove Albion. There is still plenty more to do, however, and dipping into the transfer market will be important for the club to express trust in the new boss.