Johan Lange was very keen for Dean Smith to consider giving Morgan Sanson a chance to cement his place at Aston Villa while pursuing summer transfers, according to The Athletic.
The Villans eagerly explored potential moves in the off-season and over the early weeks of the Premier League season. Smith was determined to improve his holding midfield options, but the numbers ultimately did not stack up.
Despite loaning Conor Hourihane to Sheffield United, John McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Jacob Ramsey, Marvelous Nakamba, Carney Chukwuemeka and Sanson remained. Only if a real bargain became available would Aston Villa satisfy Smith’s thirst for an upgrade in the area.
Aston Villa became aware over the weekend that Smith would likely have to make do with his existing options. Yet some even expected the Villans’ business to be done after signing defender Axel Tuanzebe on loan from Manchester United.
The Birmingham-based outfit failed with a £25m bid for Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse. And while Aston Villa considered alternatives, Sporting Director Lange was very keen to see Smith trust Sanson this season.
Lange had also particularly pushed the claret-and-blue side to sign Sanson from Marseille for £14m in January. CEO Christian Purslow ultimately agreed that the deal represented good value for money. But Smith has seldom been able to utilise the Frenchman since.
Sanson made his first appearance in 149 days when featuring for Aston Villa’s U21s in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday. A knee injury had sidelined the 27-year-old since April. Sustained after starting just three fixtures following the £48k-a-week midfielder’s transfer.
Lange could now see Sanson add to his nine Premier League appearances when Aston Villa visit Chelsea on September 11. Smith is yet to settle on his first-choice midfield this term.
Will Smith now satisfy Lange’s thirst for Sanson at Aston Villa?
Aston Villa did not quench Smith’s thirst for midfield upgrades, so he may satisfy Lange by now unleashing Sanson. The Villans boss has rotated between McGinn, Nakamba, Ramsey, Luiz, Chukwuemeka, and even Ashley Young centrally so far this season.
So, clearly, he is searching for his best combination to lock down Villa Park and help protect the defence. Smith could see Sanson as the answer, while his time out of action may also be to Aston Villa’s benefit.
“He has [done well] and I’ve been quite fortunate that I’ve been able to feed him in gently into the Premier League,” Smith said in March, via the Birmingham Mail. “Because he has come from a different league with a different intensity.
“If you throw people in, they can find it hard very early, and it can hamper them for the rest of their progression. I’ve been lucky I’ve been able to feed him in gradually, but he’s certainly ready to start games now, and I know we’ve got a very good player on our hands.”