The curtain came down on Aston Villa’s season with Unai Emery’s side qualifying for the Europa Conference League after a 2-1 victory over Brighton on Sunday.
The victory at Villa Park was the club’s 18th of the campaign, matching their record for a 38-match season. Emery’s arrival has been transformational and the club will host European nights at Villa Park for the first time in 13 years if they can navigate through a two-legged play-off in late August.
In what has been a hectic end to the month, don’t expect things to slow down as Villa prepare for a busy summer transfer window and off-season. They are waiting to hear back from Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio after offering the soon-to-be free agent a contract, while they will also shortly decide whether or not to offer veteran defender Ashley Young fresh terms.
We’ll begin with Young’s future at Villa Park. The 37-year-old is out of contract next month and is set to discuss his future with the club now the campaign has ended.
After the win over Brighton, Villa players took to the pitch for a lap of appreciation. Young was pulled over for a quick word and said: “You’ll have to ask the manager and the owners, but I want to stay.”
Before Villa hosted Brighton, Emery said: Emery said: “I spoke with him (Young) on Tuesday. I told him we are going to decide after the match on Sunday. We’ll talk with the owners and I will analyse deeply each [player] situation. His contract is finishing and he’s the first player we have to speak with.”
Emery is also thought to be keen on pinning Ollie Watkins and John McGinn down to new contracts this summer
DIGNE PROVES POINT TO EMERY
Despite already securing Europa League qualification, Brighton were far from on the beach at the weekend, and gave Villa plenty to think about. Left-back Lucas Digne stepped up for Emery’s side as he started only his second game in Villa’s last 14.
The France international won all three of his ground duels and all three of his aerial duels too. He dominated the left flank and posted an impressive passing accuracy of 81 per cent. Digne also managed to complete every dribble he attempted, while he recorded five recoveries in the match.
He’s struggled for starts under Emery since the arrival of Alex Moreno from Real Betis in January, but he’s proven that he can be relied on to put in a shift and carry out the manager’s demands. With Villa looking to fight on all fronts next season, including in Europe, Digne’s role in the squad is all the more important.