Premier League survival looks likely to go right down to the wire at Villa Park, but manager Dean Smith has reportedly already got one eye on next season.
Marseille midfielder Morgan Sanson has been catching the eye of several clubs, including West Midlands’ rivals Wolves, but reports suggest that Villa Park is now also a potential destination for the 25-year-old.
Much will depend on surviving in the Premier League and, after fighting in the Championship for three seasons, Villa fans will be hoping their team has enough to pull through this tough season of readjustment. Even the most optimistic of supporters didn’t foresee promotion last season and the thought of a swift return is unimaginable at this stage.
Villa are second-favourites for the drop in some Premier League betting markets, but with two points separating five teams, there is still plenty of hope for Villa supporters. If they do stay up, Sanson might just be the star they need to kickstart their return to the top flight.
The big question is what would he bring to Villa Park? He’s been arguably the most influential player in the French League this season, playing in the central midfield role for the side currently placed in second. They’re unlikely to catch PSG at the top of the table though and that lack of silverware is another reason he could be on the move.
Sanson moved to Montpellier from Lens for €700,000 at the tender age of 18 and made a handful of appearances for France’s Under 21 setup. He stood out for Montpellier as they succumbed to season after season of midtable mediocrity, before a €12million move to the south of the country in 2017.
He was part of the side that went all the way to the Europa League final in 2018, alongside Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin in the middle of the park. Operating in the central of midfield he is a typical ‘number six’, winning challenges and passing the ball accurately forward when called upon. He’s functional, much like players of old such as David Batty and Paul Scholes.
The race for Premier League survival comes first, but if Villa are successful in staying up then they’ll focus on the big transfer saga of the summer, the hunt for a player who by then could well be a fixture in the France team that competes in Euro 2020.