Aston Villa increasingly interested in exciting Villarreal winger

  • Unai Emery handed winger Baena his debut at Villarreal
  • High-flying Villa one of a number of Premier League clubs watching the Spaniard
  • 22-year-old Baena made senior debut for Spain in September
Alex Baena is wanted by Aston Villa and former boss Unai Emery
Alex Baena is wanted by Aston Villa and former boss Unai Emery / Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Aston Villa are ready to step up their interest in Spanish international Alex Baena, 90min understands.

The Villans are riding the crest of a form wave under Unai Emery and have won ten of their 15 Premier League games to sit third in the table - Wednesday's 1-0 win over Manchester City at Villa Park their 14th consecutive home win in the top flight.

Baena is a player Emery knows well after handing the 22-year-old his first-team debut at Villarreal, and 90min understands that the Spaniard previously told Villa's hierarchy that he's a player the club should keep a close eye on.

Villa have done just that and have been hugely impressed with his start to the 2023/24 season - one that has seen him capped by Spain for the first time and score in the Euro 2024 qualifying win over Cyprus.

A 2024 move is now being considered by Villa, potentially even in January, as they look to bulk out their wide options.

Baena tends to play on the left flank for Villarreal but is also comfortable playing on the other side and through the middle - versatility that will appeal to Emery as he looks to lighten the workload of his players brought about by their European endeavours.

Unai Emery
Unai Emery is working wonders at Aston Villa / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Villa have been scouring the market for a wide player for a number of months, with their attention turned to Athletic Club's Nico Williams. But he has now committed to a new contract in Bilbao, pushing Baena further up Villa's transfer radar.

Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City have also watched Baena over the past 12 months, and any deal will likely be dependent on the release clause in his Villarreal contract being met - that stands at £51m.

Villa do have money in the bank and have a good working relationship with Villarreal - they successfully appointed Emery after smooth negotiations and also signed Pau Torres in the summer - and that could stand them in good stead if they decide to pursue a deal.

President of football operations, Monchi, has been given the go-ahead to find players capable of assisting Villa's push for a top-four finish, which would land the ultimate prize of Champions League football next season were they to achieve it.