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Aston Villa line up £52m “magician” who’d be perfect for Barkley

Written by on May 28, 2024

Aston Villa are at a critical juncture in their journey under Unai Emery. Now that the dust has settled following the euphoria of qualifying for the Champions League with a fourth-place Premier League finish, the hard graft must begin.

Of course, competitive club football will not be contested until mid-August, but the interim must see some shrewd and purposeful work conducted in the transfer market.

Ross Barkley is closing on a shrewd return to Villa Park after spending a season on loan under Dean Smith in 2020/21, but Monchi is moving swiftly and has entered the race for an exciting attacking talent.

Aston Villa transfer news

As per Spanish sources, Aston Villa are in the mix to sign Barcelona winger Raphinha. The La Liga giants would be reluctant to part ways due to concerns about finding a replacement, though he is valued at €60m (£52m) and such a bid could be too tempting to ignore.

Barcelona star Raphinha.

Emery’s team are up against Premier League heavyweights Chelsea and Manchester United, though both superpowers fail to offer something that Villa have in their clutches: Champions League football.

How Raphinha could fit in at Aston Villa

Signed from Leeds United in a deal worth up to £55m in 2022, Raphinha has scored 20 goals and added 25 assists from 87 matches for Barcelona, winning the 2022/23 La Liga title.

He has, however, only started 43 league matches across the two campaigns, and at 27 years old he will be eager to play a prominent role that reflects his patent quality, described as a “magician” by former Whites teammate Dan James.

Raphinha might not have had the easiest time in Catalonia but he has maintained an impressive level of potency throughout, ranking among the top 13% of attacking midfielders and wingers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals, the top 1% for assists and the top 12% for shot-creating actions per 90, as per FBref.

If the Brazilian can translate such qualities back to the Premier League, Villa would land a real asset to aid them as they take a seat among Europe’s elite.

Raphinha: Most Similar PL Players





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Sourced via FBref

The 5 foot 9 winger’s stylistically similar Premier League players would certainly speak of a tailor-made ability for Emery’s squad, with Raphinha scoring 11 goals and adding three assists from 34 Premier League starts for Leeds during his last campaign in England.

Principally, Raphinha would sit on the right and look to maximise his playmaking skills by hitting winding balls above hapless heads and threading surgical passes through to the forward-surging Ollie Watkins, Jhon Duran.

Barcelona winger Raphinha.

But to achieve this, he would find a brilliant partner from deep in the aforementioned Barkley, who was remarked to be “not far off Player of the Season” by Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson after his excellent campaign with Luton Town.

As per Sofascore, Barkley posted five goals and four assists from 32 top-flight appearances in 2023/24, completing 85% of his balls and averaging 1.5 key passes, tackles and clearances, 2.1 dribbles, 6.3 ball recoveries and 6.1 successful duels per game.

The 6 foot 2 Englishman ranks among the top 15% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for shot-creating actions and the top 1% for successful take-ons per 90, effectively using his pace and power to plough forward and rent open midfield structures, freeing up space for Raphinha.

A dynamic and creative new partnership could be formed with these signings, allowing Emery’s system to shift through the phases and fire on all cylinders next season, both domestically and overseas.


Aston Villa eyeing “special” signing who’d be more exciting than Barkley

Aston Villa are close to signing Ross Barkley but another exciting talent could be on the way.

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