If Wes Hoolahan was a player linked throughout every transfer window of Villa’s wilderness years, perhaps Sergi Darder is the Spanish equivalent.
First linked with a move to Villa Park in 2014, the Spanish midfielder snubbed both Arsenal and Villa before extending his deal at Malaga. After breaking into Spain’s Under-21 squad, he again attracted interest in 2015.
Those supporters who had the mental fortitude to survive the ‘Paul Lambert Experience’, may also recall Darder scoring against Villa in a friendly. At that time, the player had an eye watering £33m buy-out clause in his contract.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Returning to the present day and Darder is once more tentatively rumoured to be of interest to Villa.
The 28 year old, now of La Liga side Espanyol, is reportedly available for €25m, plus the usual performance related add-ons.
The midfielder, has also spoken openly about his mental health struggles having moved away from home at a young age and the pressures of remaining at the top of the professional game. Ironically, he attributes the goal against Villa in the 2013 pre-season game as a major turning point in his career.
In terms of key playing attributes, Darder is a well rounded player, with versatility through the middle, being able to play either a defensive or attacking role. He contributed 10 assists and 3 goals last term and Villa may be ‘opportunistic’ to the fact that Darder’s contract is up in 2023.