Paul Lambert may have pulled off one of the best transfer deals of the summer after signing Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez from Elche with the 28-year-old keen to emulate Chelsea legend Claude Makelele for the Villans.
Sanchez was one of the stars of Los Cafeteros’ march to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Brazil and was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League upon his return from the FIFA tournament.
Villa ultimately won the battle to sign the midfielder, who previously spent time in Ligue 1 in France, with Valenciennes.
Something of an unfashionable outfit, Sanchez spent five years with the French club, during which he met Makelele, who was in the twilight of his playing career with Paris Saint-Germain.
The meeting evidently had a profound effect on the South American, who is keen to emulate the former Stamford Bridge workhorse
"I always looked up to Chelsea's Claude Makelele,” the 28-year-old told the Aston Villa website.
"He was different from the others, he played a very important role in the team and everybody spoke about him. I was in the same position when I was young and I watched him all the time."
One of Sanchez’s most cherished memories from his time in France came when he lined up against the PSG midfielder, with the pair swapping shirts after the game in what the Colombian calls "an unforgettable experience."
Signed by Chelsea from Real Madrid, Makelele helped the Blues to back-to-back Premier League titles and seemingly changed the face of top-flight football in England as we know it, helping to usher in a new era of defensive midfield play with many teams deploying a player in the "Makelele role" in front of the back four.
Keen to emulate his hero, Sanchez could provide Villa with a defensive solidity and organisation previously missing.
Succeed in emulating his France national team hero and the Villans could thrive this term.