Angers president Olivier Pickeu has admitted to L’Equipe that Aston Villa were indeed interested in signing midfielder Baptiste Santamaria from the Ligue 1 outfit before last week’s transfer deadline.
A tough-tackling midfielder who has made a name for himself in France as a commanding, all-action enforcer, Santamaria emerged as a potential target for the Premier League newcomers once both Glenn Whelan and Mile Jedinak were released after the play-off final victory against Derby County.
According to RMC Sport, Aston Villa made a bid worth £9 million but Angers turned down their offer. Dean Smith’s side instead turned to Manchester City youngster Douglas Luiz and Club Brugge powerhouse Marvelous Nakamba.
And Pikeu has now made it clear that Angers never planned to sell their 24-year-old prized asset.
“We closed the door. I think it's pretty clear,” he said. “Aston Villa made an important offer, we had a chat with Baptiste to explain the importance he had in our project.
“As a result of our exchange, we thought we would continue the adventure together, without frustration.”
Fortunately for Villa, they aren’t short of talent in the centre of the park. Luiz and Nakamba should add class, energy and presence to Dean Smith’s side while Conor Hourihane produced a typically tenacious performance in the 3-1 opening day defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in North London.
Villa should not struggle to compete against even the very best Premier League midfields over the next seven months or so.
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