By Anthony Onifade

3rd Jul, 2023 | 8:51am

Diego Carlos now faces fight of his career for regular Aston Villa berth as Pau Torres news emerges

Aston Villa are set to complete a deal to sign Villarreal defender Pau Torres and that means Diego Carlos will be looking over his shoulder with the battle for first-team minutes set to intensify.

According to a report in The Athletic [29 June], Villa now have an agreement with the Spanish giants and also on personal terms with the international defender, 26.

Torres, who formed a crucial component of Unai Emery’s setup at Villarreal during his two-year stint with the Yellow Submarine, is now set to reunite with his former manager after the former Arsenal boss earmarked him to the new Villa president of football operations Monchi as a top target.

Torres was a key player for Villarreal last season, making 39 appearances as the club finished fifth in La Liga to secure Europa League football next season, and according to Sky Sports News reporter Lyall Thomas [2 July] is set to travel to the West Midlands this week to complete his £33m transfer.

The Spaniard is now set to join a very talented crop of Aston Villa centre-backs at Villa Park, with him, Tyrone Mings, Diego Carlos and Ezri Konsa all vying for places in Emery’s plans next season.

And given the quality of all of those options, Villa fans will be forgiven for wondering who Emery will choose as his favoured pairing when the new season kicks off against Newcastle on 12 August.

Whoever the former Villarreal boss turns to, Aston Villa will certainly be in very capable hands at the heart of the defence, but one player now faces the fight of his career to be a Villa Park regular and that man is certainly the Brazilian and former Sevilla defender Carlos who was supposed to be Mings’ ideal partner when he joined the club last summer.

After signing from Sevilla in a deal worth £26million last summer, the Brazilian centre-back thrived in pre-season and was named as one of Steven Gerrard’s vice-captains for the start of the campaign.

However, the 30-year-old’s strong start where he successfully won 67% of his aerial duels, 54% of his total duels and averaged 0.3 key passes from centre-back [SofaScore] was brought to an abrupt halt after just his second Premier League start, picking up a severe Achilles injury which saw him sidelined for eight months.

Even after returning from injury, Carlos failed to oust either Tyrone Mings or Konsa from the first team, with the duo recording seven clean sheets from the final 12 games of the season which will have certainly changed the trajectory of Emery’s thinking ahead of the new campaign.

Does he stick with his tried and trusted pairing throughout much of the pre-season preparations and on the opening door, or does he immediately choose his former Villarreal lieutenant Torres from the off? Whatever Emery chooses to do from here, it’s unlikely Carlos will be happy about his upcoming decision.

The 30-year-old was a guaranteed starter at Sevilla, the undisputed component in a team suited to his destructive abilities, the same can’t be said right now in the West Midlands.

Aston Villa will fly out to the USA to compete in the Premier League Summer Series tournament next month, with games against Newcastle, Fulham and Brentford scheduled.

And the Brazilian will have been hoping to make a swift impression, but that has now been made difficult by the addition of Torres which could further kick him down the pecking order after only returning from injury and featuring just once in Villa’s last ten games.

Aston Villa fans won’t be worrying one bit, with the knowledge that they now have four exceptional and quality centre-backs at their disposal with the club now heading in an impressive and incredibly competitive new era with European football now on the horizon at Villa Park.

However, the same can’t be said for Emery who holds a real selection headache ahead of the new season. If Carlos can exert the kind of form and dominance he showed at Sevilla before his move last summer, will that even be enough?

In other Aston Villa news, big-name signings are now on the cards after a behind-the-scenes arrival at Villa Park.