By George Overhill

29th Apr, 2023 | 2:10pm

Aston Villa transfer news as £60million-plus in the balance with Tammy Abraham and Moussa Dembele on shortlist

Aston Villa are expected to be in the market for a striker this summer after Danny Ings was sold in January, with Tammy Abraham likely to be a very expensive option and Moussa Dembele a bargain alternative.

It was reported by talkSPORT during the winter transfer window (20 January) that Villa were exploring a cut-price deal for Dembele to replace the West Ham-bound Ings, although a move didn’t materialise.

But Unai Emery is still after a goalscorer, with former Villain and current Roma man Abraham a target according to Corriere dello Sport on 28 March, but i News reported on 2 March that the Serie A side have set an asking price of £67million for the Englishman, making Dembele hugely cheaper option even allowing for signing-on fees.

Fabrizio Romano reported via Twitter on Sunday (23 April) that the ex-Celtic forward is certain to move, saying: “Moussa Dembélé will leave Olympique Lyon as free agent in the summer. No doubts, decision made and to be confirmed at the end of the season.

“Many clubs are keen on signing him on free deal; Serie A and Premier League clubs included. Race is still very open.”

And statistically it would appear to be far less of a consolation to go for the 26-year-old and may actually be the more sensible option when the many millions it would likely cost to bring Abraham back to the Midlands could be spent elsewhere on the squad.

The two strikers’ career statistics in terms of games played and goals scored are remarkably similar, despite Dembele’s 2022/23 season somewhat of an afterthought compared to Abraham being a regular feature under Jose Mourinho, as shown by a comparison on WhoScored.

Although Abraham has had a trickier second season at the Stadio Olimpico he has played more than double Dembele’s league minutes (1918 – 853), started almost three times more league games (22 -8) and has scored seven and assisted three to Dembele’s three goals and no assists.

The 2021/22 season is a better comparison, although still the former Chelsea man played over 800 minutes more, but scored four goals fewer (17 -21), with both assisting four.

However, according to Transfermarkt, Dembele added just one more goal and assist each in Europa League play last season, while Abraham scored 10 more and assisted another in the Europa Conference League and Italian Cup.

A head-to-head comparison across the duos’ entire league careers may not be entirely balanced as Dembele has played in the English Championship, the SPFL, Ligue 1 and briefly La Liga with Fulham, Celtic, Lyon and Atletico Madrid respectively, while Abraham’s career has taken in the Championship, the Premier League, and Serie A with Bristol City, Swansea, Villa, Chelsea and now Roma respectively, so it is not like for like.

But using Opta Stats from FBRef the career comparison suggests that as a pure goalscorer there would be little reason not to go for the far more affordable Dembele, in league games at least.

In nine matches more but over 1,000 fewer minutes played Dembele has just one fewer league goal (97 – 98), and while the expected goals data is incomplete it suggests the Frenchman is far more efficient at taking chances than the Englishman.

Interestingly, while Abraham appears to be far more involved in the action, taking significantly more shots, while making and completing far more passes, it is actually the Ligue 1 forward who has done more with his, with a higher amount of shots on target and more assists (29 – 18).

So unless Emery sees Abraham as the man to bring those around him into play in order to get better output from everyone it may be worthwhile saving the hefty fee that would be required to bring him back from Rome, and put some of it towards a contract offer to the exit-bound Lyon striker.

The ex-Aston Villa forward certainly has quality, and a history with the club having helped Dean Smith’s side get promoted, so most fans would be delighted to see the manager backed enough to sign him.

But while a Dembele deal might not get the same headlines there is reason to believe it would be just as effective for nowhere near the cost, with more than £60million in savings to go to other areas of the squad.

In other Aston Villa news, the club could have banked an extra £60million if they had made one key move sooner.