Kalvin Phillips #4 of Manchester City gives the thumbs up to the home fans as City qualify for the last 16 during the UEFA Champions League match Manchester City vs Young Boys at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, United Kingdom, 7th November 2023

7 high-quality players Aston Villa have been tipped to try sign in January

Aston Villa are currently enjoying their best season in decades under Unai Emery and the club may be active in the transfer window in pursuit of Champions League qualification and Europa Conference League glory.

Emery has done a superb job at Villa Park since his arrival in November 2022, lifting the Birmingham-based side to seventh last year before an impressive start to the current campaign has left them fourth in the Premier League and well-placed to progress in Europe.

We’ve picked out seven players Villa might try and sign in January as they look to make the 2023-24 season a historic one.

Kalvin Phillips

This move would make sense for both player and club; Phillips is wasting away on Manchester City’s bench and is in need of first-team football before the European Championship next summer.

For their part, Villa would be getting an experienced Premier League midfielder who is comfortable on the ball and possesses one of the best passing abilities in the country.

Even a short-term loan for the remainder of the season would be smart business by Villa, especially if interest in Douglas Luiz from the league’s richest clubs intensifies.

Tammy Abraham

Abraham played for Villa in the Championship, scoring 26 times in 40 appearances and being named in the PFA Team of the Year after helping the sleeping giants return to the Premier League in 2018-19.

The striker is now at Roma, where a serious knee injury has derailed his promising start to life in Italy. Abraham is yet to play this season, but his talent remains obvious and he’s thought to be open to returning to England.

Nico Williams

Williams has shone for Athletic Bilbao for a number of seasons, attracting inevitable attention from clubs such as Barcelona, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Villa.

Speaking to DAZN, Bilbao sporting director Mikel Gonzalez said: “There’s a lot of noise around Nico, who is young and is a starter in the national team.

“We see him and his surroundings very happy at Athletic, and very focused. The normal thing is that everything ends well if the club and the player want him to stay.”

It would be a significant coup if Williams arrived at Villa Park, but it’d be a move that would allow Watkins opportunities to rest without the quality of Villa’s forward line being adversely affected.

Nicolai Vallys

Villa are one of a number of teams reportedly interested in signing Brondby IF star Vallys and the 27-year-old is seen by some as a potential upgrade on Leon Bailey if Emery would be able to secure his signature.

Vallys can play out wide on either flank or through the middle as an attacking midfielder, suggesting that he would suit either playing alongside Watkins or in an attacking midfield role.

If Villa secure his signature – and Vallys steps up to Premier League standard – it could prove to be an inspired signing.

Pedro Goncalves

According to Sport Witness, Villa are eyeing up a move for Sporting Lisbon’s €80 million-rated winger Goncalves ahead of the New Year.

The 25-year-old, who was previously on the books at Wolves, has been a revelation for Sporting in the last four seasons and registered 20 goals and 15 assists last year.

Labelled as the ‘new Bruno Fernandes’ by some observers in Portugal – for his football ability rather than the next sh*thouse king – Goncalves would link up excitingly with Moussa Diaby and Ollie Watkins if Emery gets his man.

Dani Ceballos

With speculation over the future of Douglas Luiz increasing, Villa are reportedly sounding out replacements should the Brazil international leave Villa Park in the near future.

One of those names is reportedly Ceballos, who enjoyed a loan spell at Arsenal in 2019 but is currently out of favour at Real Madrid.

The 27-year-old is technically accomplished and Villa are rumoured to be lining up an £18million bid for his services. With Emery’s Spanish connections, this transfer would make plenty of sense.

Albert Gudmundsson

Genoa and Iceland winger Gudmundsson has emerged as a surprise target for Emery’s Villa following a string of impressive performances in Serie A.

The 26-year-old impressed during Genoa’s promotion campaign last season, providing 19 goal contributions in 38 games, and has carried his form into the Italian top flight.

With interest for the winger growing – West Ham have also been linked with a move –  Genoa have tied Gudmundsson to a new contract which will see him at the club until the summer of 2027.

They are claimed to value him at around €20million, but that resolve might be tested in the upcoming weeks.

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