They can’t keep getting away with it. Unai Emery, after defying all odds to finish in European spots last season, is being backed to the hill in the transfer market.
Villa’s owners have always been an ambitious bunch but their signings this year wouldn’t look out of place in top-six squads. Then again, maybe Villa are a top-six contender then. After Youri Tielemans and Pau Torres, they are close to securing Moussa Diaby from Bayern Leverkusen in another significant coup.
Here’s grading the transfer on various aspects as Villa continue winning the transfer window –
Moussa Diaby is coming into his own in his professional career and Villa have got him at his ascendency. Diaby had always been a live-wire with the ball but in recent years, he has added end product to his game.
Raw stats are good enough to get a glimpse at his progress.
He joined Leverkusen in 2019 and since then, his goals+assists figures have improved every season, barring the recent one.
In 2021/22, his best season, he scored 13 and assisted 12 in 32 games, a world-class return.
Last season, he scored nine and matched it with assists in 33 games. Notably, Leverkusen were in a bit of a rut before Xabi Alonso worked wonders so the reduced stats need to be read in this context.
Diaby has simply been one of the best wide forwards in the Bundesliga since his arrival and at 24 still, Villa have signed the player for his peak years. He wouldn’t look out of place at Arsenal or Liverpool so Villa getting a player of his quality is a huge statement of intent.
Fit at the club and expectation
Diaby’s fit at the club is clear. Unai Emery needed a left-footed right winger in his team and that’s exactly who Diaby is. Last season, the club’s only option on the right were Emiliano Buendia, who is more of a creator than a winger, or playing Leon Bailey out of position.
Diaby’s explosiveness and goalscoring threat will complete their attack while giving it a new dimension.
As a left-footer, he will cut inside and allow Matty Cash to go on marauding runs from right-back on the overlap. Overload in both, wide areas and centrally, will open up more passing options and teams will find it hard to defend such an outfit.
From there, Diaby has shown that he is equally capable of finishing the move as he is of creating it. A serviceable right foot also means that he won’t be predictable.
As this is his first season in English football, the expectation should from him should be a return in double figures for goals and assists combined. Anything beyond that will be a bonus for the player and manager.
Diaby has been secured for an initial fee of €50 million plus €10 million in add-ons. While that price is certainly steep for a 24-year-old not accustomed to Premier League football, it is as much an outlay on potential as it is on his current ability.
As said earlier, the Frenchman has improved every season in professional football and that same trajectory will see him reach world-class level.
Moreover, Villa were competing with moneybags Saudi Pro League side Al Ahli for his signature so the ultimate amount was always going to be a bit exorbitant.
Ultimately, Villa will be more than happy with the deal if Diaby comes good in the next 2 years. If anything, they can demand north of €100 million for him if his performances prompt a top-six club to come calling for him.
For now, they have certainly overpaid, if only because conditions forced their hand.
Overall, Villa be delighted to get this transfer over the line. With the enormous riches of the Premier League, the transfer fee shouldn’t prove to be too big of a deal for the Villans. The expectations from Diaby will be high due to his talent and the fact that Villa would normally not be expected to sign someone of his calibre.
That makes it a significant capture for Villa as they seek to upset the established order and break into the top-six hegemony.