Aston Villa join Arsenal in the transfer race for Lois Openda

Aston Villa have joined Arsenal in the transfer race for the signing of Belgian centre-forward Lois Openda in the summer transfer window.

Lois Openda

Lois Openda, 23, has enjoyed an outstanding season in Ligue 1 with RC Lens since joining from Club Brugge last summer, scoring 17 goals and registering three assists in 32 games. His contributions have been pivotal in firing RC Lens into third place in the Ligue 1 table, just one point off second-place Marseille.

The Belgium international has a contract with Lens until 2027, thus, the French club are under no pressure to cash in on him. The likes of Aston Villa and Arsenal reportedly have to pay a premium in order to convince Lens to sell their prized asset at the end of the season, although Openda’s current market value is around €20m.

Aston Villa’s incredible transformation under Unai Emery

From fighting a relegation battle to European contenders, Unai Emery has done a terrific job at Aston Villa since becoming their manager last November. Emery, who succeeded Steven Gerrard when Aston Villa were just outside of the relegation zone on goal difference, has got the Villa faithful looking onwards and upwards.

Under the Spaniard, Villa have picked up 42 points out of 60 available since 6 November. The Midlands club have given themselves a great chance of qualifying for Europe, with Emery’s side staying unbeaten since a 4-2 loss to table-toppers Arsenal in February.

Ollie Watkins has been among the players to have shown drastic improvement under Emery’s coaching. He has been a constant source of goals since the turn of the year, with 11 strikes coming in his last 14 league games. However, beyond Watkins, Villa don’t have depth in the striker department and that is something Emery wants to address when the transfer window reopens.

As a result, Villa’s interest in Lois Openda makes sense. The 23-year-old would be a useful player for Villa if they can beat Arsenal to his signature.

Arsenal eyeing a striker to compete with Gabriel Jesus

Arsenal have enjoyed a brilliant season and, while their title hopes suffered a huge dent in their 4-1 defeat to Man City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, they secured a place in the Champions League for the first time in seven years. Their qualification to the elite European competition was sealed thanks to Nottingham Forest’s 3-1 win over Brighton.

Having become known that they will be playing in the Champions League next season for some time now, Mikel Arteta has started planning for ins and outs ahead of the summer transfer window. Arteta is understood to be in the market for a centre-forward to rotate with Gabriel Jesus, who had a three-month spell on the sidelines post the 2022 World Cup.

As Eddie Nketiah is the Gunners’ only other established striker in the squad, there is a clear need to bring in more quality options to add much-needed depth to their attacking unit next term. A player like Lois Openda would be a good fit at the Emirates Stadium, and the lure of Champions League football could be enough to convince him to join Arsenal.

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