Duran, Luiz, Maatsen transfer latest as Aston Villa prepare for big squad changes

Douglas Luiz
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Unai Emery's Aston Villa vision for the new Premier League season is taking shape with a number of key incomings and outgoings set to take place in the coming fortnight.

With the 30th June PSR deadline looming, Villa have a number of deals in the pipeline that should start taking shape in the coming days, starting with Tim Iroegbunam to Everton.

The 20-year-old is free to leave Villa Park this summer three years after joining the club from West Brom. He spent the 2022-23 season on loan at Queens Park Rangers, but struggled for minutes under Unai Emery last season.

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Iroegbunam made a total of nine Premier League appearances and started once, in the 4-1 defeat to Man City at the Etihad Stadium. The sale of Iroegbunam would reflect as 'pure profit' on Villa's books.

Villa need to sell to buy this summer and want to raise money before the end of the month due to their position in regards to Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR).

Douglas Luiz is expected to join Juventus in a deal worth €30m plus Samuel Iling-Junior Barrenechea, while Chelsea are speaking with Jhon Duran after Villa agreed a deal to sell him. Villa are also set to sign Ross Barkley and hold an interest in Conor Gallagher.

Luiz deal details revealed

Villa's Brazilian maestro emerged as a target for the Italian giants amid the club's current fears surrounding the Premier League's Profit and Sustainability Rules and the supposed need to raise funds before June 30's accounting deadline or risk punishment. Negotiations began and quickly it was reported a deal was advancing.

However, Weston McKennie will no longer be heading to Villa with Samuel Iling-Junior. Instead, Enzo Barrenechea will take the USMNT star's place. Villa will also receive €30m for the sale of Luiz.

Emery is hoping for the arrival of both Juve players as despite the loss of an influential player like Luiz, the squad will require improving ahead of a tough campaign. Villa learnt how their upcoming year will earlier this week when the fixtures were announced.

Duran to Chelsea in balance

Chelsea's interest is said to have intensified last week when it was said they would be willing to pay £40m for Villa's back-up striker. Negotiations reportedly quickly opened as permission was given to proceed with the eager player's side, but after this flurry all went quiet from the buying club's end.

Newer reports have emerged of Chelsea's tentativeness to splash out on the Villa striker after all, especially with alternatives on the market. Now a latest update makes for further bad reading in the West Midlands.

According to Fabrizio Romano, Chelsea have for now turned their attentions to opening discussions with Atletico Madrid for Samuel Omorodion. The 20-year-old forward spent last season on loan to Alaves, where he scored nine goals and provided one assist in 35 La Liga appearances. An initial offer of €40m (£33.7m) is said to have been rejected.

Ultimately it is stated only one striker will be signed, so Duran's departure from Villa hangs on two factors, the first being Chelsea's preference. The second comes as a further surprise. Romano now claims that Duran's deal will only progress again if Villa agree to a swap deal involving players from West London.

This of course would see the cash amount drop from its original value, which would lessen the financial boost the deal provides to Villa. There is also no suggestion of which specific players would be offered up despite links to a number of Stamford Bridge players in recent times.

Conor Gallagher is the big one, though with the midfielder's value set at £50m and the Blues able to get pure profit from their homegrown talent, his involvement is highly unlikely. Full-back Ian Maatsen presents an interesting option after it was suggested he is a target for Unai Emery.

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Coutinho talks progress

Vasco de Gama president Pedrinho says 'negotiations continue' for Philippe Coutinho to complete a move back to his boyhood club from Aston Villa despite reports of increased demands from the player.

The Brazilian has been on the periphery of the Villa squad ever since Unai Emery took charge and last season was forced to go on loan to Qatar-based Al-Duhail in order to find regular minutes. Overall it was a fine spell for the injury-troubled 32-year-old, as he scored seven and assisted three in 22 appearances.

As he will return to Villa Park this summer, the manager's stance towards Coutinho remains the same as before and so talks have been taking place over recent weeks to organise a move back to the club he began his career with.

Though as events have unfolded, the terms of the deal have fallen out of Villa's favour. At first it was reported to be an initial loan in view of a mandatory buy option, then this was later followed by a suggestion the midfielder's West Midlands contract - which still has two years remaining - would be terminated so that Vasco could sign him the only way they can afford to, for free.

Even if this were to happen, now Monday's edition of Brazilian newspaper O Dia now claims that the unusual demands being put forward by Coutinho to rejoin his former side are heaping more pressure onto the situation.

They allege the Villa man wants Vasco to complete the signing of two of his friends within the sport alongside himself this summer. They are claimed to be Josef de Souza, 35, who currently plays for Istanbul Basaksehir, and free agent Alex Texeira.

Still, despite this possible snag, Vasco's president offered a somewhat positive update on proceedings. He was quoted as saying: "Yesterday (Saturday), I met with Phillippe Coutinho’s representatives. The conversation was good and the negotiation continues."

All Villa can do in this situation is organise the player's contract termination on their side, then let the rest figure itself out from afar.

Rising star linked

Villa have joined a number of other European clubs in expressing an interest in Al-Hilal right-back Saud Abdulhamid, it has been claimed.

TEAMtalk reports that both Villa and Premier League rivals Nottingham Forest have made an approach to the player’s agent to sound out the possibility of a move.

The 24-year-old joined Al-Hilal on a free transfer in January 2022 from Saudi Pro League rivals Al-Ittihad and has now emerged as one of the strongest full-backs in the region. He also has over 30 caps for the Saudi Arabia national team and is reportedly ready to take the next step in his career.

The report goes on to state that clubs in France, including Toulouse and Marseille, are also interested in signing the player. Another report from the Guardian’s Will Unwin also named Nice and West Ham as potential suitors this summer.

Unai Emery’s side are gearing up for their first season back in Europe’s premier competition in 41 years after they clinched a top four finish last season. It’s set to be a crucial summer for the club as they ensure they have a squad big enough and capable enough of battling it out on four fronts in 2024/25.

There is also uncertainty over the future of first choice right-back Matty Cash who has been strongly linked with a move to AC Milan. Villa have also been linked with Sunderland’s highly-rated full-back Trai Hume. The Northern Ireland international has caught the eye of a number of higher placed clubs with the Belfast Telegraph claiming Bournemouth and newly promoted Leicester City have joined Villa in those looking at him from the Premier League.

Tammy Abraham of AS Roma celebrates his goal during the friendly between AC Milan and AS Roma at Optus Stadium on May 31, 2024 in Perth, Australia
Roma striker Tammy Abraham has long been linked with a return to Aston Villa -Credit:Getty Images

Talking Tammy

Villa are at the start of a transfer window that will determine how they cope with their most difficult season for decades. The 2024/24 season will see Unai Emery ’s men not only challenged with maintaining their place in the Premier League’s top four – but doing so while managing the exertions of a maiden Champions League campaign.

Of course elevation to the highest stage in European club football has its perks and in qualifying Villa are now a hugely attractive proposition to players who might not previously have considered coming to a club for Europa Conference League or even no European football.

That, combined with the opportunity to work with Emery means few targets are now out of Villa’s reach and they are being connected with some mouthwatering transfers. Not least the almost daily links with Tammy Abraham.

The 26-year-old is now at Roma but he’ll be best remembered by Villa fans for the outstanding season he spent on loan from Chelsea, to then Championship Villa. Twenty-six goals and a play-off winner’s medal made him a fan favourite.

But should Villa look to rekindle the romance? Here’s what our writers think.

Maatsen close

Villa have reached an agreement to sign Ian Maatsen from Chelsea for £37.5m. The left-back is set to sign a six-year deal in the next 48 hours.

Unai Emery is a huge fan of the left-back and paid close attention to the full-back's impressive performances at Dortmund last season. Maatsen spent the second half of the campaign at the Bundesliga side after struggling for game time at Chelsea.

Maatsen’s contract at Chelsea had been scheduled to end in June 2025 but was extended by 12 months in January before he joined Dortmund on loan.

He made 16 league appearances for the club and played a key role in their run to the Champions League final. Maatsen previously spent the 2022-23 campaign on loan at Burnley, helping them win the Championship. He also had temporary spells at Charlton Athletic and Coventry City.

Enzo Barrenechea set for Villa Park

Barrenechea is an interesting prospect. The Argentine, 23, came through Newell's Old Boys - the same club which helped to produce Lionel Messi - and moved to FC Sion in Switzerland in 2019, but a switch to Juventus didn't follow too long after. Barrenechea suffered an ACL injury in the club's B team in his first season in Italy.

The midfielder has only featured five times for the Old Lady's first team, but he spent last year on loan at Serie A rivals Frosinone Calcio. Barrenechea played 39 matches in all competitions and scored once, in a 4-0 Coppa Italia win over Napoli. Those minutes and exposure at the highest level in Italy have seen the midfielder's stock grow.

During his time with Frosinone, who have effectively given his senior career in Europe lift-off, Barrenechea left an great impression. His manager there, Eusebio Di Francesco, said: "He is a true playmaker and has the quality to manage many situations. With his age there are very few of him in Serie A, a championship in which he lacked the experience he is gradually acquiring and training continuously at great intensity."

Frosinone chairman Guido Angelozzi added Enzo Barrenechea: "For me, he can be in the Juventus squad without a doubt, he has so much quality. Personally, I am in love with Barrenechea, he reminds me of Rijkaard in his AC Milan days."

Villa, who are without Boubacar Kamara until August at the earliest and who'll be without Luiz once the move to Juve is confirmed, will be in need of a new face to fill the six position at the base of Unai Emery's midfield. If the comparisons to a Barcelona great are anything to go by, Villa might have their man in Barrenechea.

"Enzo is a really strong player," former Juventus under-19 coach Andrea Bonatti concluded. “Characteristics? He is no different from Rodri or Busquets, he is a playmaker and can also play as a midfielder. He has an aerial game, knowledge, covers the pitch well, has great technique, dominance under pressure, play more vertically and now he is much more complete.”

Penalty king linked

Villa have been linked with interest in highly-rated Brazilian goalkeeper Luiz Junior who has built quite a reputation for himself in Portugal.

The 23-year-old is the stopper with the most penalty saves in the Portuguese top flight in the last ten years, and now Villa are reported to be ‘set’ to make an attempt to sign the Famalicão player, presumably to add competition for first choice Emiliano Martinez and understudy Robin Olsen. Villa also have another 23-year-old, Joe Gauci, who only joined in the last transfer window from the Australian A-League.

Newspaper O Jogo today writes that after “showing interest” in the player, that the English Premier League club will ‘present a proposal’ for him next week. The outlet also claims that the Midlands club are ready to ‘open the purse strings’ to get the signing done, and the deal can reach as much as €12m (just over £10m).

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O Jogo, however, don’t say whether that would be enough and stress that no formal offers have been made to the Portuguese club so far.

Luiz Júnior left Mirassol for Famalicão back in 2020, initially joining the club’s U-23 squad before making his way into the first team. This season he made 35 appearances for the club, with 44 goals conceded and eight clean sheets. His contract there runs until 2027.

A Bola highlights his qualities, claiming he ‘stands out’ with many skills, and became the goalkeeper with the most penalties saved in the last ten seasons in Liga Portugal.

Do Villa need another goalkeeper? Tell us what you think in the comments section HERE.