Ahead of the 2024 off-season, Aston Villa are exploring potential free agent opportunities. Lazio’s Felipe Anderson, formerly of West Ham, has attracted their interest ahead of the expiry of his deal in the summer, while Unai Emery has also been offered the chance to sign Roma’s Leonardo Spinazzola, a possibility that is being considered. The beauty of these players, of course, is that they wouldn’t cost a single penny in transfer fees.
The hope for Villa will be to strengthen their squad with a Bosman deal or two, saving the full extent of their transfer budget for some marquee deals ahead of what could be their first Champions League campaign since the 1980s.
Monchi may finally get his man
Another soon-to-be free agent has now been linked, with reports in Spain claiming that Villa are set to sign Mario Hermoso from Atletico Madrid this summer. Sporting director Monchi twice thought about signing Hermoso during his time with Sevilla and now, with Emery’s approval, he’s hoping to bring him to England.
Atletico have been unable to reach an agreement with Hermoso on a new contract because the defender has decided that “a change of scenery” would be best for his career. Diego Simeone’s side have subsequently tried to “pressure” him to leave this month, so they can bank some money, but the defender has “no intention” of making a winter exit as he instead eyes up a summer move to Villa Park.
Villa want the deal effectively sealed as soon as possible to ensure that no external “temptations” come into play, and they’ve already offered Hermoso the chance to “more than double” his Atletico salary as part of a four-year deal. As such, it would take an “extraordinary” proposal from elsewhere in England or Spain to stop the move materialising.
Hermoso faces big battle at Villa
Hermoso came through the youth ranks at Real Madrid, and after a two-year stint at Espyanol, he left to join cross-city rivals Atletico in 2019. He’s made 153 appearances for Los Rojiblancos and was part of the side that beat both Real and Barcelona to the Spanish title in 2020/21.
He’s started 17 of his side’s 19 league games this season, and it’s a surprise to see a player with that kind of standing leave, but clearly the chance to move to the Premier League on a much larger contract is too tempting.
Hermoso will, however, have his work cut out to tie down a place in the team at Villa. The club have spent a combined £55m on Diego Carlos and Pau Torres in the past couple of years, and while Clement Lenglet is set to return to Barcelona at the end of his loan spell (with no option to buy), Tyrone Mings will return from injury next season, and Ezri Konsa may shift back into a central role if Emery can sign a new specialist right-back. That’s a whole lot of competition, but a player of Hermoso’s pedigree will still back himself to prevail.