Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery enjoyed a reasonably quiet first transfer window in charge in January as the Spaniard only made two additions to his squad.

The ex-Villarreal boss brought in Jhon Duran and Alex Moreno from Chicago Fire and Real Betis respectively on permanent deals and allowed striker Danny Ings to join Premier League rivals West Ham United.

Emery’s side are currently ten points clear of the relegation zone and eight points off the top six, which means that they are placed firmly in the middle of the table in 11th.

The Villans appear set to retain their Premier League status for another season and planning could already be underway with regard to what they want to do in the summer transfer window, as a result of their security in the table as it stands.

It has been reported in recent weeks that the club may reignite their interest in Southampton star James Ward-Prowse at the end of the campaign and Emery must act on that by swooping for the midfielder as he could be a big upgrade on John McGinn in the centre of the park.

Would James Ward-Prowse be an upgrade on John McGinn?

McGinn has been a solid performer in the top-flight for Villa this season – averaging a Sofascore rating of 6.95 – but the Saints skipper could offer a step up in quality.

The Scotland international has created 0.5 chances and made three tackles and interceptions per game whilst failing to score a single goal in the league this term.

Ward-Prowse, meanwhile, has scored six times and produced 2.1 key passes and 2.9 tackles and interceptions per match for Southampton.

The £100k-per-week magician ranks in the top 11% of players in his position in Europe’s top five leagues over the last 365 days for shot-creating actions and non-penalty goals per 90, whilst McGinn does not rank higher than the top 42% in either statistic.

This shows that the England international would be a significant upgrade on the Scotsman when it comes to what he offers in possession – both in scoring goals and creating chances for others.

Their aforementioned defensive statistics also indicate that there is not a big difference between the volume of work they get through on a weekly basis, which suggests that Villa’s defence would not be worse off by replacing McGinn with Ward-Prowse.

Therefore, Emery must sign the Saints star, whose set-piece ability was once hailed as “sensational” by ex-Villan Darren Bent, as the gem could be a big upgrade on his current option in that position.

It is now down to the Spaniard and Johan Lange to strike an agreement with Southampton in order to improve Villa’s team heading into the 2023/24 campaign.


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