Maatsen in, Cash decision, Iling-Junior role - Aston Villa's 10-player dilemma after Emery demand

Alex Moreno could be sold this summer as Ian Maatsen joins from Chelsea
-Credit: (Image: Photo by ANP via Getty Images)

Despite being forced to lose one key player to comply with Profit and Sustainability Rules this summer, Aston Villa remain focused on building a formidable squad capable of challenging towards the top end of the Premier League and in the Champions League next season.

Monchi and Damian Vidagany are working around the clock at Bodymoor Heath to ensure Villa remain compliant with the Premier League's financial rules and are also improving Unai Emery's squad. The Villa manager is in constant dialogue with the club's transfer chiefs, while owner Nassef Sawiris is also actively involved.

The €50m sale of Douglas Luiz to Juventus puts Villa into the clear regarding PSR, meaning any further transfer activity is based on football decisions rather than solely financial. Of course, the sale of Omari Kellyman will reflect well on Villa's books as he is homegrown - with such sales incentivised by PSR rules - but it is not a sale which Villa are sanctioning to simply avoid breaching rules.

READ | Why PSR transfer accusations about Chelsea and Aston Villa are absurd amid £19m Omari Kellyman move

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As Kellyman heads from Villa to Chelsea, Ian Maatsen is going the other way for a fee of £37.5m. The left-back was named in last season's Champions League team of the season and will arrive at Villa on the back of a highly-impressive loan at Borussia Dortmund in the second half of the last campaign.

He will be Villa's first-choice left-back even though Lucas Digne exhibited some fine form last season. The 30-year-old joined Villa in January 2023 and played his best football for the club last term as he proved to be one of the most consistent performers under Unai Emery.

Alex Moreno struggled for form last term because of several injury niggles. He was a key reason why Villa managed to secure European football in 2022/23 as he helped transform the way Villa played under Emery.

However, it would appear Moreno's future is in doubt at Villa and he could return to Spain this summer. If he were to leave, then Villa would be left with Maatsen and Digne as two very good left-back options. But it is unclear at this stage what Emery's plan for Samuel Iling-Junior is.

The 20-year-old will join Villa this week in a separate deal to Luiz's sale, as he and Enzo Barrenechea arrive from the Italian giants for €22m. Iling-Junior is a left-sided player who can operate at left wing or at left-wing back. Although, trusting him to be the only back-up to Maatsen would be a risk.

That being said, Iling-Junior would face a difficult task to start over Morgan Rogers, Jacob Ramsey or even Youri Tielemans from the left midfield role. It leaves the youngster between two positions with plenty of competition in those roles.

Meanwhile, Lino Sousa and Ben Chrisene will also return from loan moves this summer. Both players are not expected to be named in the first-team next season because of the options at Emery's disposal.

At right-back, Villa do not have as much depth, but there are some interesting talking points to raise nonetheless. Ezri Konsa and Matty Cash shared the role last season, but the latter has interest from both Milan clubs in the Serie A this summer.

Villa do not want to sell Cash, but every player has their price. Villa value Cash at £30m, but Milan are unwilling, at least at the moment, to bid that amount of money. It is unclear how strongly Inter want to pursue Cash.

Cash is the only senior 'out and out' right-back in Emery's squad, with Kaine Kesler-Hayden and Kosta Nedeljkovic both inexperienced in the Premier League. If Cash was to leave, then Villa would have to replace him because Emery demands that he has different profiles of full-backs in his squad.

If Konsa is playing in that position, he will invert to create a back-three which Villa then build-up from. It worked to great effect last season.

Villa are understood to hold an interest in Fiorentina full-back Michael Kayode, who predominantly plays from the right but is also capable of swapping to left-back too.

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