By Villa News Speaking to Dan Bardell

20th Jul, 2023 | 1:10pm

'Trendsetter' Pep Guardiola may have key role in Unai Emery plan at Aston Villa

We’re delighted to welcome Sky Sports journalist Dan Bardell as our exclusive Aston Villa columnist each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at the club…

Pau Torres may face a positional change at Aston Villa due to Pep Guardiola’s influence on top-level management, according to Dan Bardell.

Guardiola’s influence on football is unquestionable, and his tactical decisions with Manchester City in the Premier League have seeped their way into other manager’s ideologies including Unai Emery.

The Spaniard’s emphasis on skill, technical ability and passing is well known, but he also experiments with players in new positions or even omits positions altogether. This tactical originality has had such a real and “far-reaching” [The Athletic] impact that Villa themselves may see Torres influenced by Guardiola’s philosophy.

With his “unique” abilities, Bardell has tipped Torres to play outside of his typical centre-back role at Aston Villa as Emery may experiment with his side to emulate the three-time Champions League winner.

Speaking exclusively to Villa News, Bardell said: “Something that’s been on my mind is that Pep Guardiola has always been the trendsetter. Playing without a striker, Pep did it and suddenly everyone else is doing it. Pep buys Haaland and suddenly everyone is playing with a big goalscorer.

With the way Pep played with the four centrebacks last season, whilst Moreno is out, I wonder if you could see Torres playing as a left-back at times. I do think we will see Konsa playing as a right-back at times, especially in Europe.

I wonder whether they’ve learned something from Pep. Maybe at some point, you might see four centre-backs on the pitch depending on the game.

“Torres is exceptional on the ball, he’s exceptional for a centre-back at getting the ball out of tight spaces as well. Obviously being left-footed, Villa are very lucky to have two high-standard left-footed centre-backs in their squad.

“Just the way he plays out from the back. He’s got penetration in his passing and his weight of pass, the way he moves the ball is something quite unique in the world game. Some bigger clubs in Europe might have liked to have him.

“But, at the moment the only leagues that have any money are the Premier League and now, unfortunately, the Saudi league. We’ve seen Barcelona have problems in La Liga and even Bayern Munich have curbed their spending over the last year.

“That all played into Villa’s hands, and obviously the Emery relationship. But once Torres gets going, he’s at a really good age approaching the peak of his powers.

He’s a really unique centre back and the composure he has and the way he reads the game. He’s not a blood-and-guts defender by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s going to be a huge asset going forward.”

In other Aston Villa news, podcaster Ty Bracey has predicted Jacob Ramsey’s development next season amid injury fears.