When the transfer window closed on 1 September, everyone at the Luminus Arena must have emitted an almighty sigh of relief.
Despite a summer of incessant speculation, a highly anticipated transfer battle failed to materialise, leaving one of the most prolific centre-forwards in European football stuck at KRC Genk – much to the Nigerian’s disappointment.
“I don’t understand why Onuachu didn’t get (a move) away this summer,” Jupiler League legend Jan Ceulemans told Het Laaste Nieuws.
In the very next sentence, however, Ceulemans answered his own question.
“The only explanation I see is foreign clubs have become more careful with strikers from the Belgian league. Often, scoring in Belgium hasn’t proved to be a guarantee for a bigger competition.”
Past failures should be a danger light to Aston Villa in pursuit of Paul Onuachu
You only have to look at Aston Villa to see where Ceulemans is coming from.
The Midlands giants paid a combined £32 million to bring in Wesley Moraes and Mbwana Samatta from the Belgian top flight during their first season back in the big time.
Two years later, Wesley has returned to Club Brugge in a desperate attempt to rediscover his goalscoring touch, while Samatta joined Fenerbahce for £5 million less than Aston Villa had paid for him just a few months earlier.
Combined, Wesley and Samatta scored a grand total of six goals in 39 Premier League games in Villa colours.
Add in the struggles of midfielder Marvelous Nakamba and it’s fair to say a trio of big-money Aston Villa signings have done little for the reputation of Jupiler League exports on English soil.
Reports suggesting Aston Villa could return to the Belgian market in pursuit of another centre-forward – via Corriere dello Sport – will therefore raise supporters’ eyebrows.
It’s understood Onuachu, scorer of 35 goals last season and 12 so far this – is on Villa’s radar heading into the January transfer window. But, as Ceulemans himself pointed out, “scoring in Belgium hasn’t proven to be a guarantee for a bigger competition”.
No-one knows that better than Aston Villa.