Aston Villa are preparing for life back in the Premier League by spending big. Very big.
Dean Smith’s side have paid over £50 million for new players already, yet it seems the former Brentford boss is now looking to add some steel to a more attack-minded midfield.
And Baptiste Santamaria, the latest player to have emerged as a potential target for Villa, is not one who is willing to shirk any of his responsibilities in the centre of the park. The Angers enforcer is famed in France for his remarkable work-rate and ball-winning capabilities - and the stats show why.
He averaged over three tackles per game in Ligue 1 across 2018/19 and ran more kilometres (442) than any other player in Angers’ squad, earning the nickname ‘4x4’ for his ability to cover the ground with ease. Even John McGinn, Villa's all-action fans' favourite wins the ball back far less frequently on average (2.1 tackles per game).
Santamaria also produces more interceptions (1.6 compared to 1.5) and even boasts a better pass completion rate (81 per cent compared to 78 per cent).
RMC Sport claims that Aston Villa are interested but they will face some rather heavy competition. A move to Serie A giants Lazio could appeal for a player who wants to prove himself at a higher level while Lille, another suitor, will be playing Champions League football next season.
Santamaria could replace Thiago Mendes, who joined Lyon for £22.5 million this week as Tanguy Ndombele’s successor (Goal).
Aston Villa would undoubtedly represent a substantial ‘step up’ for Santamaria, who would be tasked with adding bite in a midfield blessed with the creative talents of Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane and Jota.
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