Midfielder set to complete another transfer after making Aston Villa 'sacrifice'

Nicolo Zaniolo of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring against Sheffield United
-Credit: (Image: Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)

Aston Villa loanee Nicolo Zaniolo is a man in demand this summer - and he could be heading for La Liga next, having completed his stay at Villa Park. Reports coming out of Spain suggest that Villarreal, the club which Unai Emery left to manage Villa, are in negotiations with Zaniolo's parent club Galatasaray over another loan deal.

Zaniolo had been heavily linked with a return to his native Italy, which was believed to be his priority this summer, but he could be swayed by the prospect of joining Villarreal, who under Marcelino, finished eighth and just outside of the European places in Spain's top tier this past season.

Italian international Zaniolo, 24, made 39 appearances in all competitions for Villa last season and scored important goals in the draws with Zrinjski Mostar, Sheffield United and West Ham United over the course of his campaign. In order to help Villa haul themselves over the line at the very end of the season as they successfully secured Champions League football, Zaniolo played through the pain barrier and ended up suffering an injury.

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It means that he won't be available to Italy in this summer's Euros, which is being held in Germany which kicks off later this month. Zaniolo, in the absence of Boubacar Kamara and Jacob Ramsey, was leaned on by Emery to help flesh out Villa's midfield department. He was introduced in the second half of the 3-3 draw with Liverpool last month, but he lasted just 14 minutes before being forced off.

Zaniolo, it transpired, had broken the metatarsal in his foot and will now be forced to watch from the sidelines as his compatriots tackle Euro 2024.

“I want to make special mention of him,” Emery last month. “He was a doubt but he made the effort to play against Liverpool, even though he had a lot of pain in his back. That was a small injury after we played Lille but it was very painful for him. However, he made a big effort because we needed every player pushing to be there and he played 10 minutes and unfortunately in that time he broke his metatarsal.

“He’s going to miss the European Championship now with the Italian national team and it is very sad for him. The start of the season was very difficult for him but he was progressively getting better. In the last two months he was really really playing well and helping us. After he was injured in Lille, what happened on Monday [v Liverpool] was very sad.”

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