The ‘rebuild’ is on. In the wake of our playoff success, Dean Smith has wasted no time in starting to reshape his Aston Villa squad for life back in the Premier League. As well as bidding farewell to everyone’s favourite housebound striker, gone are a host of out of contract players, mostly the more senior squad members from last season.
In (so far) have come Jota from Small Heath (Forum thread for Jota here), a player well known to Deano from his Brentford days and just today, the club has announced the permanent signing of Anwar El Ghazi following his successful loan spell here last season.
In a recent interview, CEO Christian Purslow put the emphasis firmly on signing players who can improve the squad and give us a chance to make an impact next season.
“We have momentum. We have a core of players that we’re very excited about. But obviously there will be comings and goings.
Our goal is, that when we arrive in the Premier League, we are ready with a Dean Smith team – players that fit his playing profile and that give us the best possible chance to make a real impact next season – not just making up the numbers.
There’s no interest in flirting with the catastrophe of relegation that the club has had to live with for the last three years so we need to make really good decisions and add players who really improve us.”
Fine sentiments, to be sure. But in letting go the likes of Glenn Whelan, Mile Jedinak and Alan Hutton, we have waved goodbye to a huge amount of Premier League experience. Of the squad that remain, only Ahmed Elmohamady, Neil Taylor and Jack Grealish have played regularly in the top flight, so the feeling remains that we need to add one or two experienced heads to help cement our position in the Premier League.
Much has been made of the availability of former Villan Gary Cahill, as well as links with another old boy, Jordan Amavi. See: Article on Jordan Amavi
Other out-of-contract players include Liverpool duo Alberto Moreno and Daniel Sturridge, Everton centre-half Ashley Williams and Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck. Any of these would surely add some much-needed experience to our depleted ranks, although their high wages might not sit so well.
As Christian Purslow mentioned, we have momentum and a core of exciting players. The likes of Jed Steer, John McGinn and Conor Hourihane have earned their chance to display their skills on the big stage.
But an equally important group of the promotion squad were loan players, and in key positions – Axel Tuanzebe, Tammy Abraham and Mings have returned to their parent clubs for the time being, and in the case of Axel and Tammy, they are highly unlikely to be joining us again in the foreseeable future.
So therein lies the rub – do we go gung-ho down the ‘young and hungry’ route, or do we adopt a more measured and pragmatic approach and look to bring in some more experienced heads? As ever, we welcome your thoughts. Or head over to the forum for more, ahem, colourful debate on the transfer speculation.
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