Aston Villa signing Moussa Diaby is PERFECT for Unai Emery - here’s why

2 minute read

Aston Villa have completed the transfer of Moussa Diaby from Bayer Leverkusen for a reported £51.9m, making the French winger Unai Emery’s latest summer acquisition and the club’s most expensive signing.

While the fee brings a level of expectation, Diaby’s distinctive blend of abilities makes him absolutely perfect for Aston Villa’s tactical approach… almost.

As FourFourTwo ‘s Adam Clery highlights in the video above, Unai Emery is a big proponent for his players making runs in behind opposition defences. Ollie Watkins demonstrated this expertly last season, bagging 13 goals when the Spaniard was appointed in October 2022.

New signing Moussa Diaby of Aston Villa poses for a picture on July 22, 2023 in Washington, DC

Moussa Diaby is the latest Aston Villa signing (Image credit: Getty Images)

Diaby is, simply, one of the best players in Europe at making that exact run behind defences, either with or without the ball. The Frenchman has pace to burn, with his sharp movement often catching defenders unaware. He is also skilled while running with the ball, allowing him to make quick changes of direction.

Crucially, the signing of Pau Torres from Villarreal at centre-back perfectly compliments Diaby, too. Torres is brilliant at long passing and dropping it over the head of the last man, which will invariably benefit Diaby who will be running in behind.

Where Diaby doesn’t quite suit the style currently employed at Villa Park, though, is his defensive work. When comparing his defensive stats to Jacob Ramsey and Emi Buendia from last season, Diaby falls far behind in a number of areas.

Unai Emery head coach of Aston Villa in action during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park on April 15, 2023 in Birmingham, England.

Unai Emery should get the best out of Moussa Diaby (Image credit: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

Indeed, Emery likes his attackers to press as a unit and win the ball back with aggression, something the 24-year-old isn’t particularly adept at doing.

Emery has worked with Diaby before, though, at PSG, meaning his lack of defensive attributes certainly won’t come as a surprise. Either the Aston Villa manager doesn’t see it as a problem, or he’s confident in fixing it himself.

Diaby is also the perfect signing for Aston Villa because, after all, he arguably would’ve moved to a “bigger” club in the Premier League or elsewhere in Europe if his defensive work was better. This slight defect in his game perhaps represents why the Villa has been able to get him, because they have to do their business with players on the next rung down from Europe’s elite.

Aston Villa new signing Moussa Diaby Bayer Leverkusen

Diaby impressed while playing for Bayer Leverkusen (Image credit: Getty Images)

More Aston Villa stories

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_ Aston Villa have released their home kit for the 2023/24 season_ _ , which is available to order now._

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Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture’s websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.