Aston Villa ‘offered’ player as Smith reveals Guardiola transfer message ahead of Everton
Villa were ‘offered’ striker
Aston Villa were linked with Genk striker Mbwana Samatta during the summer transfer window.
The 26-year-old scored an eye-catching 32 goals in all competitions last term as Genk won the Belgian Pro League, including 11 goals across their Europa League campaign.
Villa were among a number of Premier League sides credited with an interest, along with Brighton and Hove Albion, Leicester City and Burnley.
A transfer fee of £12m was quoted for Samatta and although Villa did use the Belgian market to strengthen their squad in attack, they opted to raid Club Brugge for frontman Wesley Moraes instead. Midfielder Marvelous Nakamba also arrived from the same club.
Samatta has kept up his brilliant form for the new season, having scored four goals in as many matches as Genk go about trying to defend their league title.
Reports in Belgium claim the Tanzania captain was indeed ‘offered’ to Villa recently – but claim Sheffield United came closest to bringing him to the Premier League.
The hugely talented Brazilian was put to Dean Smith thanks to the ground work put in by the club’s sporting director, Jesus Garcia Pitarch.
Pitarch, previously of Valencia and Atletico Madrid, has extensive contacts across La Liga and followed Douglas’s career during his two-year loan spell at Girona. City, meanwhile, couldn’t get a valid work permit for the 21-year-old after Pep Guardiola signed him from Vasco da Gama for £10million back in 2017.
Guardiola himself was desperate to get Douglas in a City shirt and, last summer, was part of City’s pre-season squad for their US tour with Douglas excelling in central midfield against the likes of Dortmund and Bayern.
The Villa boss met up with Pep Guardiola prior to the start of the Premier League season and couldn’t believe he’d got one over the legendary coach, who told him: “You’ve got a really good lad there.”
Callum O’Hare says he is ‘buzzing’ to have joined Coventry City as he highlighted what a valuable experience his last loan move was.
The Aston Villa youngster will spend the rest of the campaign with the Sky Blues, who have enjoyed an unbeaten start to the League One season.
O’Hare was included in the first-team setup by Dean Smith during pre-season after his contract was extended by a further year towards the end of last term.
But the Villa boss has decided the attacking midfielder’s development will be best served by another campaign with regular football further down the ladder.
“I’m buzzing to finally get the deal done and to get down here,” O’Hare told Coventry’s website. “I’m looking forward to get going and I can’t wait, I like the way they play here, and I think it’s a good club.
“I want to get more experience and hopefully do something really good with the team. As I said, I’m feeling good, I’m buzzing and I can’t wait to get started.”
How Everton are shaping up
Everton will be able to call on Lucas Digne against Aston Villa on Friday – but Fabian Delph will not be part of Marco Silva’s squad.
There were concerns over Digne’s availability after he was brought off in the second half of Everton’s win against Watford at the weekend.
But he has been passed fit for the clash at Villa Park having come through training during the week. Leighton Baines is also fit again having recovered from a thigh problem.
But Delph won’t be considered for selection against his former club with the 29-year-old being made to wait for his Everton debut.
He joined the Goodison side from Manchester City in July but is yet to appear for his new side in a competitive fixture.
Villa, meanwhile, will be without Jonathan Kodjia and James Chester as they look to get their Premier League campaign up and running having lost their first two fixtures against Tottenham and Bournemouth.
Jack Grealish will once again be on the outside of England’s squad, looking in.
England boss Gareth Southgate is reportedly set to offer debuts to Leicester City’s James Maddison and Chelsea‘s Mason Mount as he looks to add youth to his midfield. But Grealish is expected to be omitted, despite his return to Premier League football.
There was a real clamour for the Villa skipper to be involved in Southgate’s squads last season, causing the England manager to address the questions of his inclusion.
At the time, Southgate said that the 24-year-old would need to be playing top flight football for him to be considered, although he was keeping a close eye.
Since then, the Solihull-born star has fired his boyhood club back to the Premier League and featured in both of their early season fixtures. He has been the unfortunate recipient of a top flight record, after he was part of 20 straight defeats, but has impressed, registering one assist and creating a hatful chances.
Pundits Steve Sidwell and Cutris Davies both agree that Grealish is on the verge of an international call-up, but there are things holding him back.
Smith on the new boys
Smith admits the likes of summer signings Matt Targett and Frederic Guilbert “must wait their turn”.
Villa spent £130million on 12 new additions in the summer but, at full-back, Smith has kept faith in both Neil Taylor and Ahmed Elmohamady.
The experienced duo were mainstays in Villa’s side which gained promotion and, according to Smith, the new boys waiting in the wings must “earn the right to play”.
“They have to earn the right,” explained Smith. “We’ve had a really good pre-season where it was very competitive. We signed a lot of new players. They’ve integrated really well but it’s also about learning about the speed of the game in the Premier League and how we train and play.
“Some of them got in earlier than others and some of them are waiting their turn but are working hard in training to get into the team. You have to earn the right to play. You’ve got to prove you’re better than the players who’ve already got the shirts.”