Aston Villa SEASON PLAYER RATINGS: Who is the ‘heart and soul of the team’? Which new signing got just 5/10? And who ‘stood above the rest’ as Unai Emery’s player of the season


Aston Villa have just enjoyed their best season in decades and it’s hard to argue that any team in the Premier League exceeded expectations more than Unai Emery‘s. 

A fourth-placed finish saw the Villains qualify for next season’s Champions League after 42 years out of Europe’s top competition.

Emery’s men took nine points from Arsenal and Man City as they established themselves as a serious threat in the top flight.

They also made a deep run in Europe, exiting the Europa Conference League in the semi-finals. 

Here, Mail Sport rates each player’s performance in what was an unforgettable campaign. 

Unai Emery oversaw a brilliant season as Aston Villa qualified for the Champions League

Unai Emery oversaw a brilliant season as Aston Villa qualified for the Champions League

Emiliano Martinez 8.5

With Tyrone Mings sidelined for the season, Martinez is the most vocal player in this Villa team and a crucial figure both on and off the field. 

The Argentine might not be everyone’s cup of tea but he is one of the finest goalkeepers on the planet. An outstanding performer.

Robin Olsen 5.5

The Swede has a commendable track record across Europe yet it is time for Villa to go with a younger back-up goalkeeper. 

When Martinez is missing, Villa lose not only his technical ability, but his larger-than-life personality that keeps his team-mates on their toes. Joe Gauci is his likely understudy next term.

Matty Cash 7.5

His place has been in doubt from the moment Unai Emery walked through the door – but Cash has always responded in the right manner. 

His attitude that should inspire team-mates and if the 26-year-old leaves this summer, he should view his Villa career with great pride.

Ezri Konsa 8.5

The defender’s dip in form during the closing weeks of the season should not cloud what has been an excellent campaign. 

Operating impressively at right-back and centre-back, Konsa has been one of the best in the country and deserves to make Gareth Southgate’s final England squad for Euro 2024.

The versatile Ezri Konsa proved himself to be one of the best defenders in the country

The versatile Ezri Konsa proved himself to be one of the best defenders in the country

Pau Torres 8

The top performer among Villa’s summer 2023 signings. A classy operator who Villa missed hugely when he was injured and a key part of Emery’s strategy of building play from the back. 

His talent and temperament mean he will be crucial for the Champions League tests that lie ahead.

Lucas Digne 7.5

The Frenchman was nearly sold to Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia last summer and could depart before the new season begins but if that was his final campaign, he went out on a high. 

The Frenchman’s experience and class will be tough to replace, especially in the Champions League.

Diego Carlos 6.5

Injury and competition for defensive spots meant the Brazilian was never an automatic pick but when he did play, he usually made it count. 

Tailed off towards the end of the season though and is another who could move on this summer, with the average age of the squad needing to come down.

Clement Lenglet 6

The on-loan Barcelona man is good with the ball at his feet but his lack of pace was often exposed, especially in Villa’s high defensive line. There seems little case for Emery to renew his loan deal after a season of ups and downs.

Alex Moreno 6

Usually makes a positive impression when he plays – but he plays far too little. 

Only 11 league starts this term tell the story of his physical fragility and it is lucky for Emery that Digne proved so durable. Next season is a big one for the Spaniard.

Boubacar Kamara 8

The man who makes it all tick in the middle of midfield, it was no surprise that Villa looked much more fallible after he sustained a season-ending knee injury in February. 

The Frenchman hopes to be back in autumn and his return cannot come soon enough.

Douglas Luiz 8

The Brazilian is another vital player for Emery and as soon as Kamara was injured, his form also suffered. 

One of those Villa know they can sell at a big profit as they seek to stay within Premier League spending rules but it would be very tough to replace him.

Douglas Luiz is a vital presence in midfield and will be wanted by big clubs this summer

Douglas Luiz is a vital presence in midfield and will be wanted by big clubs this summer 

John McGinn 8.5

What a season for the skipper. Playing on the right, the left and in the middle, the Scot has never let his standards drop and is rightly the heart and soul of this team – as well as the survivor from Villa’s promotion from the Championship five years ago.

Jacob Ramsey 6

A campaign ruined by injury. When Ramsey played, he was effective – but he was restricted to just eight league starts and needs a long, strong pre-season to regain rhythm. 

Whether that will be with Villa or another club is open to debate, as homegrown players mean big profits in the PSR world.

Youri Tielemans 7

Arriving on a free transfer and on very high wages, Tielemans initially struggled to make an impression but eventually became an important player for Emery, especially when others were injured or losing form. 

His ability to fulfil a number of roles and his European experience should be vital next term.

Calum Chambers 5.5

He turned down opportunities to leave Villa both last summer and during January, preferring to stay despite a bit-part role. 

His lack of rhythm meant he found it hard to make an impression on the rare occasions he was needed, though he impressed as a substitute in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool earlier in May.

Tim Iroegbunam 5.5

Emery publicly challenged the youngster to raise his game in the middle of the season but Iroegbunam never quite managed to step up. 

His chances of esver becoming a regular starter seem to be fading and it would be no surprise if he were loaned or sold to a Championship club.

Ollie Watkins 9

Among many fine performances, Watkins’ displays this campaign stood above the rest. 

The 19 league goals in 37 games were just one part of the story: the 28-year-old is a lethal finisher, an impressive technician, a selfless worker and a durable operator. 

A coach’s dream and the ideal back-up for Harry Kane this summer.

Ollie Watkins was Villa's standout player of the season and led the line brilliantly

Ollie Watkins was Villa’s standout player of the season and led the line brilliantly 

Leander Dendoncker 5.5

Back at Villa this summer after he joined Napoli on loan last January but could not convince the Serie A club to make the move permanent. 

Though he has never let anyone down during his time at Villa Park, the club will be more than happy to sell.

Leon Bailey 8.5

There is a wonderful off-the-cuff quality to Bailey’s football that is far too difficult to find in the modern game. 

Every well-drilled side needs a player capable of the unpredictable and Bailey provides that for Emery. 

A final tally of 10 goals and nine assists was proof of Bailey’s impressive campaign.

Moussa Diaby 6

Started brilliantly but faded gradually throughout mid-season before looking back to something like his best in the final games – but for a club-record £45million and such a substantial salary, Villa need much more from Diaby next term to justify that sort of financial commitment. A big season awaits the Frenchman.

Nicolo Zaniolo 5

Why was he signed? The Italian, on loan from Galatasaray, started a number of the early matches but rarely looked at home and there was never the sense that he was in English football for the long term. 

He will return to Turkey before completing another loan move, probably back to Serie A.

Galatasaray loanee Nicolo Zaniolo never really managed to settle at Villa Park

Galatasaray loanee Nicolo Zaniolo never really managed to settle at Villa Park 

Jhon Duran 6.5

The king of chaos. Whether in training, on the pitch or on the bench, nobody knew quite what to expect from the Colombian. 

He started only three times and scored five, including a crucial double against Liverpool. But a long-term partnership with Emery seems unlikely and he could be sold.

Morgan Rogers 7.5

Transfer deals during the Emery era have been patchy but Villa certainly nailed this one. 

The wide man quickly looked at home after joining from Middlesbrough and delivered three goals and one assist in his 11 appearances. 

The 21-year-old will surely improve and for an initial £8.5million, looks a real bargain.

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