By Jonty Banks

28th Mar, 2023 | 5:10pm

Aston Villa should gamble on Watford winger Ismaila Sarr after Fabrizio Romano transfer update

Unai Emery has led a miraculous recovery since taking to the Aston Villa dugout this season, but a few issues within his first-team squad still need resolving this summer.

More depth behind Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara is one, a right-back replacement for Ashley Young a second, but possibly most important of all is the need for a top-quality wide attacker.

In Emery’s preferred 4-4-2 formation, the front two attackers usually consist of one centre-forward in Ollie Watkins’ ilk and a winger, which at the moment is being filled by Leon Bailey.

However, with the Jamaican struggling for consistent form this campaign and Bertrand Traore not being given a look-in by Villa’s Spanish boss, a wide attacker is certainly set to be on the summer shopping list.

One name that crops up time and time again is Watford winger Ismaila Sarr, who Sky Sports reported (20 August) had agreed on a deal to move to Villa Park in the summer before the move fell through at the last minute.

Transfer insider Fabrizio Romano has now provided an update on the status of the 25-year-old, who has scored nine goals and provided five assists in the Championship this season.

Speaking to Caught Offside, Romano said: “There’s a chance for Ismaila Sarr to leave Watford this summer, regardless of whether or not they win promotion.

“But at the end, interested clubs will have to offer what Watford want; every summer or January we have Sarr’s name around and deals are not completed because of Watford’s position. An important bid will be needed.”

With the 52-capped Senegal international out of contract at Vicarage Road at the end of 2024, this summer is likely to be the last chance for the Championship side to cash in on their lucrative asset – an opportunity that Aston Villa must gamble on.

According to the Opta-powered stats on FBREF, in the last year, Sarr is in the 84th percentile for non-penalty expected goals in the men’s next eight competitions under Europe’s five top divisions.

Furthermore, the Hornets attacker averaged 4.68 touches in the attacking penalty area per game, which is more than both Bailey and Traore, as well as registering more take on’s that lead to a goal (0.07 per 90) than Bailey (0.00 per 90).

During the 2022/23 campaign, Sarr has averaged 2.2 shots per game, compared to Bailey’s 1.7, while registering more dribbles than the Villa winger, 1.5 v 1.2, and more key passes per appearance. [WhoScored]

Both Bailey and Sarr rely on pace and power to generate the bulk of their chances, but as the stats highlight, Sarr is the better option of the two wingers.

Emery should look to finally put the Sarr transfer saga to bed and table the “important bid” that Romano believes will be necessary to lure him away from Vicarage Road this summer.

In other Aston Villa news, Alan Hutton has backed a potential game-changing attacking deal for a Premier League attacker.