Five key facts about reported Aston Villa target Bakary Sako

Aston Villa

With just one goal scored in their last six Premier League games, Aston Villa have been linked to Wolverhampton Wanderers star Bakary Sako. Here’s all you need to know about him...

Although he started his career in France with Chateauroux, Sako was among a special group of players at St Etienne from 2009 until his Wolves move in 2012, but he missed out on helping the club win their first piece of silverware in 32 years – the 2013 Coupe de la Ligue.

Speaking in an interview with Footmercato, the 24-year-old revealed he still keeps in regular contract with two of his former ‘Greens’ teammates – both of whom have gone on to bigger and better things, along with PSG’s Blaise Matuidi, in the intervening years:

“I left a part of me in Saint Etienne, great people, but also friends. It is not a day goes by that I exchange with Green (Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund, Josh Guilavogui who is on loan at Wolfsburg from Atletico Madrid).”

He may have been a deeply unpopular manager during his brief time in the Molineux dugout, but one of the best things Stale Solbakken did during his ill-fated spell in the Midlands was to bring the Mali international to the club.

"He can play on either side, in behind the striker and has a great left foot," Solbakken told the official Wolves website.

"He has great experience from playing in a top-six or seven team in France over the last two seasons and hopefully he can be a match-winner for us."

Signed by the Dane in August of 2012, by January of the following year the FC Copenhagen coach was gone, with Wolves sacking Solbakken after an FA Cup loss to Luton.

Sako ranks the Championship as a far more competitive division than Ligue 1, as he explained in an interview with Footmercato.

"It's simple, everyone can beat everyone,” he said of the Champions League, citing the examples of Middlesbrough, Bolton and Blackburn as former Premier League with the potential to challenge those in France.

"These teams could play the second part of [Ligue 1], but no more, there is still a lack of tactical culture, but that is offset by a commitment any time.

If Aston Villa, or any other Premier League side for that matter, is serious about signing Sako, they may want to consider a double swoop for the Mali international and his French teammate Nouha Dicko with the pair striking up quite the partnership both on and off the pitch.

"We get on really well on the pitch. I could even say it’s automatic – when I’ve got the ball I know what he’s going to do and I know what kind of passes he likes," Sako explained to FourFourTwo.

"It’s easier to play with players that you already know well – you know their qualities and their movements. Off the pitch we spend a lot of time together, sometimes at home or we go out together. Yeah we get on brilliantly!"

Sako is French but of Malian origin and represented the African nation at under-17 level as well as Les Bleus at under-21 and faced a tricky choice when it came to deciding who he would play for at a senior level.

Speaking at the time to the Birmingham Post, Solbakken urged the winger to push for a place in the France setup, though he admitted it would require patience.

"Florent Malouda has played for France and he’s in Chelsea’s reserves at the moment so anything could happen," he said.

"I don’t think he could realistically play for France now, but if he continued to develop that could also happen. He should have that aim."

Ultimately, however, Sako opted for Mali. "The many discussions with the coach Patrice Carteron his project with this selection of Mali and the prospect of playing a major international competition are all factors that made me think a lot," he told footmercato.

To date, Sako has been capped five times by Mali, scoring twice for the national side

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