Aston Villa are reportedly interested in Sporting CP’s Manuel Ugarte, and one journalist believes he would be a statement signing for the Villans.
What’s the latest on Villa’s interest in Manuel Ugarte?
Ugarte has been on Villa’s radar for some time and, according to reports in Portugal (via Sport Witness), the Midlands outfit sent scouts to watch the Uruguayan play against Arsenal in the Europa League last month.
However, the report suggests that Villa will face stiff competition to secure his signature from Serie A giants Roma and AC Milan as well as fellow Premier League sides Newcastle, Leeds, Tottenham Hotspur, and Wolves who are also interested in the 21-year-old who has a £53m release clause.
What has been said about Villa’s interest in Manuel Ugarte?
Respected football journalist Pete O’Rourke has told GIVEMESPORT that he believes the signing of Ugarte would represent a real coup for the Claret and Blue Army.
“I think you’d have to say it would be. It’d be a big marquee signing for Aston Villa. There are a number of top clubs linked with him. I think Tottenham Hotspur are long-term admirers of the player.
“He’s obviously performed well for Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League and now also Europa League, where they knocked out Arsenal. There will be a number of top clubs monitoring his situation at Sporting Lisbon as well.”
Would Manuel Ugarte be a statement signing for Villa?
As a combative, young midfielder with high potential, it makes sense why Villa are tracking Ugarte.
Villa boss Unai Emery is keen to strengthen his squad this summer with players who could develop at Villa Park throughout his reign, as it is expected he will target Europe in his first full season in charge at the Midlands outfit.
The Montevideo-born starlet has been one of the best players in Portugal this season and has played a key role in getting Sporting to the Europa League quarter-finals, although the youngster was sent off in the round-of-16 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
As per FBref, he has made the most tackles (89), the second most dribblers challenged (45), as well as the second most ball recoveries (178) in the entire Primeira Liga this season.
The eight-cap Uruguayan also ranks in the top 1% of all midfielders outside Europe’s top five leagues for average tackles and pass completion rate per game, as well as in the top 3% for blocks, 4% for interceptions, and top 6% for successful take-ons.
His all-action nature as a player is illustrated by him being described as a “midfield machine” by scout Jacek Kulig.
As Emery continues to impress following his arrival at Villa Park, bringing in a promising young midfielder like Ugarte would, as O’Rourke states, represent a real statement of intent, as well as a show of faith towards their Spanish boss.