The tricky Champions League problem Aston Villa must consider in £50m transfer chase

Chelsea have reportedly slapped a £50m price tag on Conor Gallagher
-Credit: (Image: Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)

Aston Villa will be in the clear regarding Profit and Sustainability Rules once Douglas Luiz completes his €50m transfer to Juventus this week, allowing the club to somewhat loosen the purse strings in a bid to improve Unai Emery's squad.

That's harder said than done when Villa qualified for Champions League football last season and are now losing a key player like Luiz. But the club's recruitment chiefs are making the best of a frustrating situation by signing Samuel Iling-Junior and Enzo Barrenechea in a separate deal with Juventus, plus Ian Maatsen and Ross Barkley from Chelsea and Luton Town respectively.

Once those deals get over the line, Villa will have a stacked squad with a good blend of youth and experience from back to front. There are of course doubts of Jhon Duran's future, while Villa will also listen to offers for Diego Carlos and Alex Moreno.

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Every player has their price, but Villa deem certain players 'untouchable' this summer following the sale of Luiz - one of their key assets. Matty Cash has interest from AC Milan and Inter this summer, but both are currently unwilling to meet his £30m price tag.

If Duran, Carlos or Cash were to leave, then Villa would likely directly replace those players as they'd lack depth in those specific positions respectively. However, if Villa were to add another player to their squad which isn't a replacement for someone outgoing, following the aforementioned five expected arrivals, then Emery would face a big decision regarding his Champions League squad.

Villa have a concrete interest in Chelsea's £50m-rated Conor Gallagher this summer, as well as other midfielders, including Everton's Amadou Onana. While planning for Luiz's sale began 18 months ago with the pursuit of Youri Tielemans and then Barkley this summer, Villa's interest in other midfielders appears to suggest the club are not yet satisfied with their options and could spend a sizeable amount to replenish that department of Emery's squad.

Villa will be allowed to register 21 players who are not 'club-trained' in their 25-man Champions League squad. Jacob Ramsey will be one of the four 'club-trained' players, but Villa do not have to register another three, it just means they will have less options to call on.

Four players of the 21 must be 'association-trained', which will be Emi Martinez, Ezri Konsa, Barkley and Ollie Watkins, for instance. It leaves Villa with 17 players who do not have to be classed as 'homegrown'.

Villa may only name two senior goalkeepers considering including three would mean two senior outfield players would have to be taken out. Konsa, Pau Torres, Maatsen are guaranteed to be included, while Tyrone Mings, Matty Cash, Diego Carlos and Lucas Digne should also be named. If not them, then a player who has replaced them in the market.

John McGinn, Youri Tielemans, Ramsey, Boubacar Kamara, Barkley, Iling-Junior and Enzo Barrenechea are all expected to make the squad as midfielders, with Ollie Watkins, Moussa Diaby, Morgan Rogers, Leon Bailey, Emi Buendia and Duran - or a replacement for the Colombian - named as forwards.

That's a 22-man squad sorted, but where a problem could arise is if Villa add another midfielder to their ranks as McGinn, Tielemans and Kamara are all staying and will not be sold. Adding Gallagher, for example, tips the squad size over to 23, which will not be permitted because the three remaining slots in the 22-man squad are reserved for those 'club-trained' players.

It would give Emery a decision to make on which player he'd remove from his squad. Perhaps he'd look at his options on the left with Iling-Junior capable of filling in at left-back, while Ramsey, Rogers, Buendia and Tielemans can all play in the advanced role on the left.

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