By Liam Scahill
A young dynamic exciting French centre-back by the name of Harold Moukoudi has been one of the many names linked with a move to B6 this month.
The 21-year-old who currently is enjoying a breakthrough season of sorts with his hometown club Le Harve in France’s Ligue2, is widely reported to be out of contract this summer.
Moukoudi, of course, has already visited Bodymoor Heath and Villa Park when Steve Bruce was interested in bringing him on loan. While the player was impressed with Villa as a club, he wasn’t convinced in them as a team.
“I saw huge, impressive infrastructure,” Moukoudi told French press, of his visit to Villa. “I had the feeling that their football and ours were not the same.
“I went there to hear what the coach had to say to me. To see if it was interesting to leave. I took the time to think and I chose to stay in France.”
Villa manager Dean Smith is no stranger to shopping in the French footballing market, his former employers; Brentford signed a range of footballing talent from French footballing institutions during his tenure with the Bees.
Julian Jeanvier, Yoann Barbet, Said Benrahma and the deadly Neal Maupay (who was tentatively linked to the Villa before the Tammy Abraham situation resolved itself) were all procured from French shores.
There is a chance that Dean Smith’s Aston Villa may offer a more attractive destination than the version Moukoudi originally considered.
The links to Moukoudi may hold an ounce of truth or credence, he fits the young profile the Villa squad is desperately in search of and his current contract situation means he is available on the cheap.
Will Villa have the same level of interest now that they’ve picked up Kortney Hause on essentially a ‘try before you buy’ deal.
There’s growing interest in Moukoudi, so Villa would face some stiff competition in the form of Borussia Dortmund, VfL Wolfsburg, Olympique Lyon and Stade Rennes. Also, their FFP predicament will reign in Smith’s squad building in this particular window.
Could there be a situation where they buy now and let him stay in France until the end of the season (and spread the payment)?
Villa in the past, flirted heavily with French footballers especially during Paddy Riley’s ill-fated spell with the club, the likes of Jordan Veretout and Jordan Amavi were recruited and since departing English shores have gone on to grow their reputations immensely. So much so, they are now regularly linked with moves to some of Europe’s footballing superpowers. With this hindsight, past bad experiences won’t necessarily put them off.
Moukoudi missed Le Harve’s Coupe De France fixture at the weekend, with his club stating that the player’s representatives advised he should be selected.
La Harve like any other club in this position, would naturally wish to acquire a transfer this January rather than lose a prise asset for nothing in the summer.
With Dortmund’s Manuel Akanji out for the season, the Die Schwarzgelben (The Black and Yellows) may have the urgency to make a move for Moukoudi this January, as they attempt to capture the Bundesliga title.
You get the sense that Villa by recalling Tommy Elphick and loaning in Kortney Hause have made their centre-back moves for the window, with Axel Tuanzebe expected to be back in March.
If only Villa were in a firmer place in the Championship table, they may have been able to speculate for the future a bit more.
Follow Liam on Twitter, here – @Sir_Scatman