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Unai Emery and Aston Villa ‘want’ another Villarreal star after Pau Torres signing

Unai Emery is keen for another Villarreal reunion

Villarreal CF v Stade Rennais FC: Group F - UEFA Europa League 2023/24 Photo by DAX Images/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Aston Villa have poached manager Unai Emery and defender Pau Torres from Villarreal in the last 12 months, and the Premier League side could now come back for more.

It has now been reported that Emery is now eyeing up midfielder Alex Baena for a January move. Fichajes have claimed that Villa do not want to activate Baena’s €60m release clause, and they believe they can land him for a lower price.

Baena has now made 79 first team appearances for Villarreal, with 15 goals and 16 assists in that time, and is a crucial player for the yellow submarine, with a goal and four assists in 10 games this season.

Villarreal’s poor start to the season, as well as the summer departures of the likes of Pau Torres, Nicolas Jackson and Samuel Chukwueze could mean Baena is open to a move.

The 22-year-old came through the academy at Villarreal, and made an incredible breakthrough during Emery’s time at the club. He has now blossomed into a first-team regular, and can play both in midfield and on the wings.

Villarreal should resist the urge to sell Baena

Villarreal CF v Stade Rennais FC: Group F - UEFA Europa League 2023/24 Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images

His ability to shoot from distance, whilst also bringing a wealth of creativity to the side, makes him a standout player, and losing him in the winter window would be a disaster.

Villarreal President Fernando Roig recently stated that Villarreal are in a difficult financial position, and that players may need to be sold to help ease the burden. Baena is one of Villarreal’s most valuable players right now, and a significant bid in January may be too good to turn down.

However, Villarreal should do all they can to keep Baena. Another strong campaign could see his value increase further, and if his release clause is eventually activated, that would be a much more favourable outcome than letting him go for less midway through the season.