After being rebuffed in their earlier attempts to sign Swansea’s Ki Sung-Yueng, Aston Villa have turned their attentions to a new target to fill the defensive midfield role.
According to reports, the club are closing in on the £3.5 million signing of Elche’s Carlos Sanchez, who starred for Colombia during their run the World Cup’s quarter-finals, having won 44 caps since his 2007 debut.
Nicknamed, “The Rock”, due to his defensive solidity, the 28-year-old spent six seasons in France with Valenciennes prior to moving to the Spanish side, earning comparisons to his idol, Claude Makelele, and was once a reported target for both Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United.
Have also been linked to Queens Park Rangers in recent weeks, Paul Lambert is said to be keen to get a deal wrapped up as soon as possible, in the hopes to bolster a still thin and inexperienced lineup for the new season.
With the recently-departed Yacouba Sylla failing to make the grade, Villa were forced to use Ashley Westwood in the holding role for much of last season, but the potential signing of Sanchez would free the former Crewe captain up to feature alongside Fabian Delph further up the pitch.
That would also give license for Delph to assume more attacking responsibilities in the side, where he was at his best during his breakout 2013-14 campaign, standing out as one of the few bright spots of an otherwise disappointing campaign for the club.
What’s more, while Villa were said to have been desperate to land Ki before the South Korean international opted to open negotiations over a new deal with Swansea, Sanchez’s World Cup stats, despite being a small sample size, do paint the picture of a superior prospect for the particular job needed.
|Team||Season||Won Tackle / apps||Duel Won / apps||Interception Won / apps||Passing %||Poss Lost All / apps||Ball Recovery / apps||Dispossessed / apps||Apps||Mins|
|Ashley Westwood||Aston Villa||2013-14||1.14||2.63||1.37||82.86||12.00||6.34||0.46||35||3,081|
|Team||World Cup||Won Tackle / apps||Duel Won / apps||Interception Won / apps||Passing %||Poss Lost All / apps||Ball Recovery / apps||Dispossessed / apps||Apps||Mins|
|Ki Sung-Yueng||South Korea||2014||1.00||5.67||1.67||93.51||12.00||4.67||2.00||3||270|
Passing is the obvious area where the Colombian falls behind his rival but, in his role shielding the back-four as part of a midfield trio, that wouldn’t have to be one of his main strengths under Lambert.
The stats also suggest that Ki is perhaps the more mobile of the two, given his slight edge when it comes to intercepting passes and recovering possession, although that is to be somewhat expected when he’s afforded a broader midfield role than one Sanchez fills for his national side.
Whatever the case, Villa desperately need help on the defensive side of the ball, particularly if captain Ron Vlaar leaves, and someone who can shield a weak back-line is an absolute must add before the end of the transfer window.
Sanchez could no doubt provide that for a relative bargain price for a World Cup veteran, and his potential presence in the starting XI would help ease the minds of fans to some degree, ahead of what looks set to be another testing season at Villa Park.
Would Sanchez or Ki be a better addition for Aston Villa?