Aston Villa poised to open talks for Man Utd target, Arsenal flop as Emery kickstarts triple transfer mission

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Unai Emery is eager to take the Aston Villa midfield to the next level and this could see a Manchester United-linked French star follow Ross Barkley to Villa Park, according to reports.

After underwhelming spells at Chelsea and Nice, Barkley’s career looked to be going downhill when he joined Luton Town on a free transfer last summer. But the central midfielder has just enjoyed a brilliant campaign under Rob Edwards, despite Luton’s relegation back to the Championship.

Barkley dictated the tempo for Luton from a deeper midfield role, while also chipping in with five goals and six assists in 37 games.

The 30-year-old used his vast experience and excellent close control to help Luton compete against far richer sides, though they ultimately could not stay in the top flight.

Ahead of Aston Villa competing in next season’s Champions League, Emery has identified Barkley as a key target to bolster his midfield options.

On Monday, it emerged that Villa have agreed a £5million deal with Luton as they edge closer to landing the Englishman, who had a loan spell with the club in the 2020-21 season.

But according to fresh reports, Emery also wants a second midfielder to join the Villa squad during the summer transfer window, which opens on Friday June 14.

He has earmarked a particular kind of player as his ideal signing and this could see one of two stars join.

Aston Villa transfers: Adrien Rabiot, Matteo Guendouzi on shortlist

Villa have already prepared a €30m (£25.5m) offer for Matteo Guendouzi, the Arsenal flop who is now shining for Lazio.

Guendouzi is on loan at Lazio from Marseille, and the deal will be made permanent this summer for €13m (£11m) plus €5m (£4m) in potential add-ons.

But the Frenchman’s spell in Italy could be short-lived, as Emery is hoping to bring him back to the Premier League.

Emery has already signed Guendouzi once, in July 2018 when he was Arsenal boss. The 25-year-old went on to have a troublesome spell at Arsenal, but he has both matured and improved as a player since then.

If Villa fail to snare Guendouzi, then they could sign his compatriot Adrien Rabiot instead. The Juventus ace has long been linked with a switch to Man Utd, but now reports claim that he has appeared on Emery’s shortlist.

Rabiot has enjoyed a great campaign with Juventus but is available on a free transfer as the Italian giants have still not managed to tie him down to a new contract.

Signing an experienced international for no transfer fee would be a great move, so it would make a lot of sense for Villa if they initiated talks with Rabiot’s camp in the coming days/weeks.

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