Aston Villa this week confirmed Moroccan international Karim EL Ahmadi as the first signing of the Paul Lambert era on a three year deal from Dutch side Feyenoord. The fee, believed to be in the region of £2.5 million, sees El Ahmadi swap Champions league football next campaign with the Dutch Eredivisi runners-up, to pit his wits in the Premierleague with the Claret and Blue.
El Ahmadi is in fact the second player to move to Villa Park this summer from the Dutch league. Brett Holman, whom signed a pre contract agreement with Aston Villa last season, was officially registered on 1st July completing his move from AZ Alkmaar. Both men will report for pre season training along with their new team mates this this Thursday as the first team prepare for a pre season tour of America.
New Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert was clearly delighted to have got his man proclaiming “He’s a really good footballer and he’s played well in a good team, a big team, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
El Ahmadi himself has targeted a top ten finish for his first season in the Premierleague. “I’m very excited about coming here to a massive club and I’m looking forward to playing here,” he said.
The signing has been met with a positive response from many Villa fans. Of those who are unfamiliar with the Dutch League, the local news and official website has been filled with video footage of El Ahmadi in action, showing him to be a competitive individual blessed with an ability to get up and down the pitch, whilst providing a sense of guile in the middle of the park with his composure upon the ball and excellent passing range. Fans will be pleased to know El Ahmadi is also not afraid to put his foot in, something the midfield at Villa Park has been lacking in.
If the footage is anything to go off then it could prove to be a great piece of business. With club captain Styilian Petrov still receiving treatment for Acute Leukaemia and the future of Jean Makoun remaining uncertain, the midfield was an area that needed freshening up and some bodies added. This signing certainly adds competition for places with many of Villas youngsters who impressed in this area last season now knowing they will have to do it all over again being under new management.
Villa fans will be hoping that this is the first of many transfers coming into the club. Believed to be top on off Lambert’s wish list is to bring in a new central defender to improve a back four wish severely underperformed last season. Reports suggest that Richard Dunne very much so remains a part of plans at Villa Park with the future of James Collins not quite as clear with the Welshman linked with a return to newly promoted West Ham United. Fan favourite Carlos Cuellar this week completed his move to Sunderland, reuniting the Spaniard with former Villa boss Martin O’Neill.
Lambert may have to deal in the transfer market in a similar fashion to those before him, on a tight budget with one or two players being moved on to make way for some new faces. The capture of El Ahmadi is certainly exciting for Villa fans as it is somewhat unexpected and adds to the exciting surrounding the club of late.
Stay tuned for more new on transfer activity this summer at Villa Park.