One in, more to come?
There can be no doubts that new Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery has had an immediate impact on the first team squad following his appointment as Steven Gerrard’s successor and he now has his second capture of the January transfer window to call on.
Having arrived at the end of October, across all competitions he has overseen four victories and one draw, pushing us up the table into eleventh place with 25 points. There have been some low points and poor performances, but fans can at least see a more consistent style of play coming out now, and Emery is also making his mind up on the strengths and weaknesses of certain players, and although the 2022/23 campaign will largely be a write off (you would think) as he continues his rebuild, it should be noted that we are now closer to the top six than we are the bottom three and if our strikers can get themselves into a Chilli Heat Slot in front of the net, the year could get better.
We all know ourselves where the more important weaknesses in the squad are, and I imagine few fans minded Emery’s first signing, Alex Moreno, coming in with the January transfer window now having been long open. Particularly in light of Moreno’s excellent debut against Leeds United as we picked up another fortunate win, as although he understandably had a bit of a choppy opening few minutes, he really grew into the game and looks like he could be a real asset to us moving forward at both ends of the pitch.
We will be hoping the same is true of our second signing under Emery’s reign, as like Moreno, I imagine few have heard of former MLS striker Jhon Duran who has just joined us (subject to the relevant clearances and work permit) for a deal said to be worth £18 million in total from Chicago Fire.
The 19 year old talent has scored eight goals and provided six assists in 28 appearances for his former side and with him being described as a forward and winger, he presumably comes in as alternative competition to Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings as our recognised strikers, and also potentially offers a challenge to Phillipe Coutinho, Emi Buendia and Leon Bailey dependent on his preference of playing style.
There are not many details out there about the player, although their are plenty of YouTube videos and clips that at least give an impression of what the young lad could be capable of in the future for us – but I am sure we all remember the lessons of judging a player based on video clips, Bosko Balaban anyone?
Having spent time with Envigado FC from 2019 to 2021, in 2020 Duran was listed in The Guardian’s ’60 of the best young talents in world football’ list, and he only actually made the move to the MLS in January 2021, but the Columbian international has clearly caught our manager’s eye and even if he has been signed with one eye on the future, it will be very interesting to see how he fits in and adjusts now, as obviously Cameron Archer is no longer a first team option with him being loaned out to Championship side Middlesbrough so he can gain greater first team experience.
I do not imagine Emery is finished yet in the market, and there has to be more departures in my mind, so we will simply see who potentially comes through the door next.