Aston Villa have shown over recent years that they are not shy when it comes to approaching their fellow English clubs to try and sign players.

Danny Ings, Emi Buendia, Ollie Watkins and Matty Cash, among others, have all made moves to Villa Park from other clubs across the country.

However, one player that the Villans and Johan Lange were unable to lure despite their best attempts, and who we think they must regret missing out on, is James Ward-Prowse.

In the 2021 summer transfer window, the Midlands club reportedly had a £25m bid rejected by the Saints for their captain. Shortly afterwards, the Englishman put pen to paper on a new five-year deal at the south coast club and has since shown why Villa should have done more to sign him when they had the chance.

Last season saw the 27-year-old end the campaign with more shots (51), key passes (70), shot-creating actions (113) and crosses (68) than any other Southampton player, which highlights how much of a creative and attacking threat he can offer from the middle of the park.

His overall performances earned the £45k-per-week England international a solid season rating of 7.01/10, making him the highest-rated Saints player according to WhoScored. This would have made him Villa’s second-highest rated player for the 2021/22 campaign by the same metric, only behind John McGinn (7.17/10).

Praised by Pep Guardiola for his “exceptional” set-piece prowess (14 free-kick goals in the Premier League), Ward-Prowse would surely have been a useful addition to Steven Gerrard’s ranks – especially from an attacking point of view, as the Villans have had the second-fewest shot-creating actions (97) in the league so far this season.

Taking all this into account, we feel that the club and Lange should be kicking themselves over not securing the midfielder’s signature when they had the opportunity to do so last year, thus continuing their track record of signing players from fellow English clubs.