On assessment from last season, the positions Villa need to strengthen the most are the following; the left back position and also the attacking midfield position, responsible for sitting in the hole behind the striker.
I don’t think Antonio Luna is the player we need, first choice left back Joe Bennett got tormented by a journeymen away at Bradford in the Carling Cup last season (one of many occasions) and in my opinion we need someone with a bit more experience than Luna. However it looks apparent that Lambert will again gamble on the lack of Premiership experience.
Another position I have always thought Villa needed to strengthen, since the departure of James Milner was the number 10 position.
Charles N’Zogbia was given an extended run by Lambert last season but he just didn’t do enough to cement his place as Villa’s starting number 10. Reports recently confirmed Zoggy injured himself on holiday in Miami and had undergone surgery on a suspected achillies injury, possibly out for up to 7 months.
With that news added to the fact fellow attacking midfielder Brett Holman has completed a move to Al Nasr in the UAE Arabian Gulf League, Villa will now have to go out and find a new number 10.
Montpellier’s Moroccan attacking midfielder Younes Belhanda has been linked on more than one occasion, reports even suggesting a move to Villa had already been agreed. It’s rumoured he wants a move to the Premier League, quoted as saying, “my decision is imminent, I have still got the time to think a bit but I will stand by the decision I will take. I wanted to play in the Premier League, I have the opportunity so let`s see.”
Personally I can’t see a player with his ability and reputation being interested in a move to B6, if it did happen, it would only be as a stepping stone e.g. like Falcao with his move to Monaco.
That said it appears he has now signed for Kiev.
Consequently a new number 10 won’t be arriving until big earners Darren Bent, Stephen Ireland, Shay Given and Alan Hutton are off the wage bill, even though replacements have been found.
Bent’s replacement (Helenius) has already signed, Bacuna will replace Stephen Ireland, Chris Herd (returning from a long term injury) will replace Alan Hutton and Shay Given will be replaced by England under 20 keeper Jed Steer. Norwich (not for the first time) have decided to take Villa to an independent tribunal to decide the final amount of the transfer.
The only other situation that needs concluding is the impending future of star man Christian Benteke. After 23 goals in all competitions last season Villa want to tie him down to a new contract; double the £20,000 he currently earns.
If Villa keep Benteke I can’t see why a top seven challenge isn’t possible. Teams who are likely to finish 7th and downwards next season have already impending problems. Everton with a new man at the helm (Roberto Martinez) seems likely to lose vital players e.g. Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines, Swansea are in a mini crisis with manager Michael Laudrup and chairman Huw Jenkins in the midst of a communication breakdown; Jenkins reportedly has cut all ties with Laudrup’s friend and agent Bayram Tutumlu over the club’s transfer policy.
West Brom have lost one of their most influential players Romelu Lukaku (returning to Chelsea) and will have other clubs after their key players this window. Every team who finished in the bottom half (11th-17th) hardly represent a huge difference in quality, so if Benteke stays and a new number 10 is signed Villa could easily amplify a challenge for the top seven.
The Villa wage bill will hopefully be reduced by a reported £285k as soon as the deadwood has been moved on. With transfers so far only costing around £8m Randy Lerner’s policy to vastly reduce the wage bill (after Martin O’Neill’s unlimited spending spree) has been done firmly by manager Paul Lambert.
Lambert with completion of one of the big tasks set to him by owner Randy Lerner will now maybe allow a move for another marque signing, such as Darren Bent was back in 2011, to become more than just a pipe dream for Villa fans – well we live in hope for a bum’s on seat addition don’t we.
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