Daily Star

UNAI FACING HARD SELL DESPITE WINDFALL

- ■ by NEIL MOXLEY

ASTON VILLA will have to cash in one of their prized assets this summer – despite their Champions League windfall.

The club will bank an estimated £50m bonus next season after cementing a spot in the top-four and qualifying for Europe’s most prestigiou­s competitio­n.

Boss Unai Emery celebrated confirmati­on of Villa’s top-four finish at the club’s awards dinner when news of Manchester City’s victory over Spurs came through on Tuesday night.

But it appears he will have to sell before he can buy due to the losses run up by the club, or else face a points deduction. Premier League clubs are allowed to post a deficit of £105m in any three-year period.

Villa are walking a tightrope after declaring a small profit due to the £100m sale of Jack Grealish during the 2021-22 financial year. But their deficit ballooned within the next 12-month period, to a loss of almost £120m.

However, purchases of £51m club record-signing Moussa Diaby and Pau Torres at £31.5m have left Emery staring at a financial black hole.

That outlay – along with any overspend on wages – means even though Villa will bank about £50m from reaching the competitio­n they will have to make good the loss before their next financial year end.

And that means they need to offload one of their star performers.

Midfielder Douglas Luiz is likely to be a target, as is keeper Emi Martinez.

Striker Ollie Watkins will be off-limits after he agreed a new five-year deal and the most obvious contender for the exit is midfielder Jacob Ramsey.

Two broken metatarsal­s have curtailed his season and as a graduate of the club’s academy the whole fee will be offset against the losses.

But even that might not be sufficient to push Villa back into the black.

 ?? ?? ■ WE DID IT: Emery can’t hide his joy after Villa reach the Champions League
■ WE DID IT: Emery can’t hide his joy after Villa reach the Champions League

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