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Aston Villa: Quentin Merlin a target for Steven Gerrard

Aston Villa: Quentin Merlin a target for Steven Gerrard -Aston Villa News

Aston Villa are keen on signing Nantes left-back Quentin Merlin, according to The Sunday Mirror (05/06, p72), via Birmingham Mail

The lowdown

Steven Gerrard has already completed four signings for the summer transfer window – Diego Carlos, Philippe Coutinho, Robin Olsen and Boubacar Kamara – but his recruitment drive shows no signs of stopping.

Indeed, The Athletic‘s Gregg Evans reported after the capture of Kamara that a left-back is on the agenda for the 42-year-old.

Merlin has been with Nantes since the age of 11 but only made his Ligue 1 debut this season. He would go on to start 21 of his team’s top-flight matches, making seven more substitute appearances.

The 20-year-old, who can also operate as a left midfielder, is contracted to Nantes until 2026 and is valued at £4.5m by Transfermarkt.

The latest

The report from The Sunday Mirror (via Birmingham Mail) claimed that Merlin grabbed Gerrard’s attention during a Ligue 1 scouting mission a few weeks ago.

The Villa manager travelled to the Stade Velodrome for a match between Marseille and Nantes on 20 April, intending to watch Kamara, but Merlin reportedly impressed him too.

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The verdict

Merlin, who has been labelled a ‘serious talent‘ by Jacek Kulig, looks like he could be a strong back-up to Lucas Digne and a potential long-term starter, with Matt Targett’s Villa Park future uncertain.

The French youngster ranked in the 86th percentile among full-backs in the top five European leagues for shot-creating actions in 2021/22, notching three assists in addition to his two goals (via FBRef). With high volumes of progressive carries and dribbles too, he’s clearly very active up and down the left flank.

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He may only have played 20 minutes on the night that Gerrard was in attendance, but that speaks to the strength of his cameo against Marseille. Merlin won three of the four duels that he contested, completed two dribbles and was successful with eight of his 10 passes (via SofaScore).

He also shone against Paris Saint-Germain in February, scoring what sports journalist Josh Bunting called an ‘incredible‘ goal, and he looks like an astute replacement for Targett if the latter has played his last game in a Villa shirt.

In other news, Matt Maher lays out his Villa transfer expectations

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Article title: Aston Villa: Quentin Merlin a target for Steven Gerrard

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