By Noel Whelan

28th Nov, 2022 | 1:12pm

Aston Villa could now launch 'huge' La Liga raid after £52m Mikel Merino reveal - pundit

Noel Whelan has suggested the prospect of signing some of La Liga’s “best players” will be “exciting” for Aston Villa after Unai Emery’s appointment.

The former Leeds striker was speaking exclusively to Football Insider amid new links to 26-year-old midfield star Mikel Merino.

According to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo (25 November), Emery would “love” to sign Real Sociedad midfielder Merino as the January window approaches.

The report claims the Spain international has a release clause of €60million (£52million) as part of his contract with the Basque giants – which expires in June 2025.

Merino, once of Newcastle United, has made 20 appearances for Real Sociedad this term – registering a combined eight goals and assists.

Football Insider revealed last month (27 October) that Villa will back Emery with a “huge” January kitty to bolster a misfiring squad.

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Whelan told Football Insider’s Ewan Kingsbury: “He’s tapping into areas that he’s worked in.

“He’s very clued into the future and what he wants – he knows the type of players he wants at the club for the next four or five years.

“We know how hard it is to break into the Spanish national side, and Merino has done that.

“This could be a really exciting prospect for Aston Villa. They’ve now got this link to La Liga which could see some of the best players in that league come to their club.”

Aston Villa sit 12th in the Premier League after Emery led his new side to back-to-back wins prior to the mid-season World Cup break.

The Midlands giants return to action against Liverpool on Boxing Day.

In other news, Football Insider updates as Aston Villa star man has had a “fall-out” with Emery.