By Amir Mir
Any news of an Aston Villa player departing this summer will be of good news to the supporters as the majority disgraced themselves last season during what was a humiliating relegation.
As reported by Football Insider, Idrissa Gueye is close to the Villa exit door, with French side Marseille having reportedly triggered his £7.1 million release clause.
But, despite a disastrous season for the Villa Park outfit, Gueye was one of a few Villa players who ended the season with some credit.
The former Lille midfielder was signed by then-manager Tim Sherwood last summer and went on to make 38 appearances for the club, scoring on just one occasion against Wycombe in the FA Cup.
If you look at the Senegalese international’s stats from last season, they make for some surprising reading, despite his club picking up only 17 points last term.
The defensive midfielder made 4 tackles per game in the 2015-16 season, including 140 interceptions all season- only Leicester’s N’Golo Kante made more.
Aaron Tshibola was signed from Championship rivals Reading on Sunday morning and the dynamic midfielder may well be a replacement for Gueye but both can build a strong partnership in the middle of the park for the Midlands club.
There is no doubt that newly appointed boss Roberto Di Matteo must keep hold of his midfielder who will stand-out if he is playing alongside better players.
It should be considered a priority of the club to offer him a new deal. The purpose is dual-fold, to show Di Matteo’s faith in him and perhaps double the release clause to a sum that would fend off the vultures looking to prise one of Villa’s few proven top-tier players.
Ashley Westwood was a regular feature in the Villa team last season and the former Crewe player made 1.8 interceptions last term, including 5.4 inaccurate short passes.
Westwood who is a transfer target for Premier League side Burnley is a prime example that Di Matteo must sell other midfielders in the team, before considering the sale of Gueye.
Carlos Sanchez, Leandro Bacuna, and Jordan Veretout all failed to cement down a regular place in a team that conceded 76 goals and picked up just three wins all season.
There is a reason why the likes of Gueye, left-back Jordan Amavi and forward Jordan Ayew are attracting the big names across Europe, but Di Matteo is struggling to offload others such as Sanchez, Veretout and Bacuna.
In other Aston Villa news, Di Matteo has outlined what he wants as he insists he will take his time in finding a new striker.