I think most Aston Villa fans would accept that our approach to the 2019/20 campaign has been one based in attempting to juggle the hopes of survival, whilst also tempering the financial aspects of a potential relegation.
With the constraints of Financial Fair Play obvious to all, especially in light of our previous financial troubles under the last owner, with so many aging players out of contract last summer and our need to quickly and prudently replace them, this year was always going to be a gamble but as I type, 17th place in the Premier League table does the trick for us.
With the core of the group re-established regardless of what 2020/21 holds for us, if we stay up most fans would like to see minimal additions – but good quality to help us take the next step – and should we stay up, the educated guess is we’ll have another busy summer, but most likely with further departures of those who simply haven’t made the grade at the club.
The Birmingham Mail posited recently that we could see as many as 14 leave, and whilst I wouldn’t expect it to be that many – purely because it would again mean ten additions to bolster the depth and their associated settling in periods – the names they listed aren’t really a surprise and would probably feature on most fans lists as we look to continue turning the club around.
James Chester (contract expires in the summer)
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (contract expires in the summer)
Conor Hourihane (new deal this season)
Matija Sarkic (contract expires in the summer)
Keinan Davis (contract expires in the summer)
Andre Green (contract expires in the summer)
Callum O’Hare (contract expires in the summer)
I’d add Jake Doyle-Hayes potentially as well as it’s not just the first team we are revamping.
Those out of contract are obvious picks as with no new deals offered, their futures have to be in doubt and in many ways, only Jota, Elmo and Hourihane are likely to be with us next season.
Although there was some confusion about Matija Sarkic as he didn’t feature on some lists when the transfer window closed, the revised 25 man squad published by the PremierLeague.com for the second half of the campaign, does feature his name and given how well he did at Livingston, like Callum O’Hare, you’d expect those two to get deals.
Davis and Green are a conundrum for different reasons.
Regardless of whether we stay up or not this year, I don’t see them all going, purely for the aforementioned continuity reason, but we need to cash in on some of those we can still get fees for just to help create wriggle room to strengthen – especially in light of assumed wage levels.
It could be an interesting summer, one way or another.
FFP - Have We Done The Right Thing This Year?
Time Will Tell