Aston Villa are finalising the £12million signing of left back Alex Moreno from Real Betis, in what will be their first deal of the January transfer window. Moreno has not travelled to Saudi Arabia with the Betis squad for the Spanish Super Cup mini-tournament as he awaits developments on a move to the Premier League.

The impending purchase though will raise questions over the future of Lucas Digne – who only joined the club a year ago in a £25million switch from Everton, signing a four-and-a-half-year deal, and is one of the club’s highest earners.

Moreno turned down the chance to join Nottingham Forest last summer but the presence of his fellow Spaniard Emery at Villa could persuade him to leave Betis. If the clubs can agree a fee, personal terms are unlikely to present an obstacle.

Boss Unai Emery quickly identified Moreno, 29, as a priority target for this window even though he already has Lucas Digne and Ludwig Augustinsson as senior left-backs, while Ashley Young can also play there. 

Emery has won three and drawn one of his five league games in charge since the sacking of Steven Gerrard and alongside the interest in Moreno, he is desperate to bring in at least one wide attacker. Emery is interested in former Everton and Watford man Gerard Deulofeu, who plays for Udinese.

Villa’s billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens will back Emery in the winter market and last week pumped another £13.5m into the club’s coffers. Aside from Moreno, Villa central defender Kortney Hause is in discussions to cancel his loan at Watford as he starts a rehabilitation programme on his knee injury. He is likely to be out for a further six weeks. 

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