Report: Aston Villa scouts dazzled by Ligue 1 duo

Nice's French defender Malang Sarr (L) vies with Nimes' French forward Sada Thioub (R) during the French L1 football match between Nimes (NO) and Nice (OGCN) on November 10, 2018 at the...

Villa are known for their interest in French players.

Nimes' French forward Sada Thioub (R) vies with Strasbourg's French defender Pablo Martinez (L) during the French L1 football match between Strasbourg (RCSA) and Nimes (NO) at the Meinau...

French outlet Le 10 Sport claim Aston Villa scouts have identified Nimes Olympique winger Sada Thioub and Angers SCO holding midfielder Baptiste Santamaria as targets ahead of the January transfer window.

Dean Smith is likely to make his mark on the Villa side in the January transfer window, which will be his first opportunity to bring new players to Villa Park since moving to the Midlands from Brentford.

Speedy winger Thioub helped Nimes gain promotion to the top tier of French football last season and has proved crucial in helping the newly-promoted side defy expectations this season - as Nimes sit in a lofty eighth place.

 

Meanwhile, Santamaria has impressed at the base of Amiens midfield, featuring in all 16 Ligue 1 games so far this season and attracting the interest of bigger French clubs Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux and Strasbourg.

Villa are renowned for looking to France as a scouting pool, with the likes of Jordan Veretout, Idrissa Gueye, Jordan Amavi and more joining the club in recent years. Anwar El Ghazi joined the club on loan from Lille this summer.

Montpellier's French forward Andy Delort (L) vies with Angers' French midfielder Baptiste Santamaria (R) during the French L1 football match between Angers(SCO) and Montpellier (MHSC), on...

It remains to be seen if Smith will look to bring either Thioub or Santamaria in January, but Villa are certainly well stocked out wide in Yannick Bolasie, El Ghazi, Ahmed El Mohamady and Albert Adomah. 

A holding midfielder could be eyed, though, as Mile Jedinak and Glenn Whelan are in the final months of their contract. That may mean Santamaria becomes a target next month.

Dean Smith head coach of Aston Villa in action during training session at the Bodymoor Heath training ground on December 05, 2018 in Birmingham, England.

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