Inside track on new Aston Villa signing Alex Moreno: Can he be the winger Emery was desperate for?

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To find out more about new Aston Villa signing Alex Moreno - including why Unai Emery signed him - we spoke to ESPN Analyst and Writer, Luis Miquel Echegaray.

Aston Villa have finally got their first signing of the Unai Emery era over the line, as Alex Moreno put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half-year deal yesterday. The Spaniard, who can play either as a left-back or a left winger, is highly rated by La Liga supporters and pundits.

The 29-year-old has built up quite a reputation at club level in his home country with the likes of Elche, Rayo Vallecano, and Real Betis - the latter being where he signed from. Moreno heads to Villa Park on the back of winning his first major trophy, having helped Betis to the Copa del Rey last campaign.

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Signing for around €15 million (£13.3 million), Moreno arrives with plenty of experience as well as the desire to kick start a new era of his own. It was not an easy decision to leave Betis, especially with Los Verjiblancos fourth in La Liga, but the project under Emery was reportedly too good to turn down.

So, what exactly can Lions supporters expect from Moreno and what were the reasons behind Emery bringing him to Villa Park? To find out, BirminghamWorld spoke to Luis Miquel Echegaray, ESPN Host, Analyst and Writer - and a Villa fan - with a keen eye on Moreno’s progress. You can follow Luis on Twitter, here.

Villa do of course already have a talented left-back in Lucas Digne, so what does Moreno offer that Digne does not?

“Moreno is more adventurous than Digne, specifically going forward. He offers a great balance between carrying the ball and going towards the box and is never afraid to shoot, hence his five goals last season. I think Unai Emery is thinking to himself, ‘how can we become more multidimensional from the back? How can we become more of a threat when the midfield is feeling a little congested?’. Maybe he wants to surprise opponents with more weapons.”

Moreno had been touted by many as a ‘top five’ left-back in Spain. Was this genuinely the case?

Moreno has different characteristics to Digne.Moreno has different characteristics to Digne.
Moreno has different characteristics to Digne.

“Last season, specifically towards the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, he was - in my opinion - a top 5 left back in Europe. As mentioned before, he scored five goals in the league for Real Betis in 2021-22, as well as three assists. But really, it’s about how good he is going forward as well as his ability to cover ground.

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“Not going to the World Cup, in my opinion, was a huge mistake by Luis Enrique, because at an international level, he would have shown so much of his arsenal. Alas, I guess this ends up being a good thing for Villa, as we end up buying for a very, very good price.”

Are there any weakness that Villa fans can perhaps look out for?

“I will say, his biggest ‘weakness’ is disrupting an opponent when they have the ball, so breaking up play is not as good Digne, but he is a very good tackler and in man marking, two things that Emery requires. Many have questioned the arrival of Moreno due to his age (he turns 30 in June) but it’s important to remember a few things.

“One, 29 years old in the modern game is not 29 years old from 20 or even 10 years ago. Moreno plays like someone much younger and he is known for his longevity in matches. He often boasts about his lung capacity and capability of staying in games.

“Two, if he can play a major factor in the next few seasons and help Villa either win a trophy or get back into Europe, as opposed to waiting for a 21-year-old project, then I’m all for it. As Aaliyah once said, age ain’t nothing but a number.”

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Moreno has an eye for goal, even from defensive positions.Moreno has an eye for goal, even from defensive positions.
Moreno has an eye for goal, even from defensive positions.

Moreno played as a winger at times for Betis. Could we see him utilised as the ‘winger with different characteristics’ - a player Emery has been craving?

“Yes, 100%. Moreno’s arrival is clearly healthy competition for Digne but it also means opportunity. You could see matches where you see both on the left wing and Moreno acting as a winger. Back in 2019, he told Diario de Sevilla in an interview that he is more than happy to play anywhere on the left wing and that statement has strengthened since then. Emery has already used Matty Cash as a right winger in certain moments during a match – he can do the same here.”

Any final thoughts on Villa’s new man?

“Yes. Alex Moreno represents a technical improvement in the squad and someone who can help Aston Villa in something we have needed for so long – guts going forward. Back in the day, we had a left-back called Alan Wright, the last left-back who has won a trophy for Villa. Moreno is giving me these feelings again.”

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