Last time, I had a look at the defensive position at B6. If we can bring in Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause (as is widely expected), and perhaps add the relative experience of Matt Targett, we’ll be in a decent position.
But amid mounting speculation over the possible arrival of a new goalkeeper, I suggested that the mooted £25m for Jack Butland might be better spent elsewhere. Despite our owners’ vast wealth and spending power, we have to operate within the Premier League’s Profit & Sustainability regulations, so we can’t just spend, spend, spend.
So, looking further forward, we have already completed the permanent signing of Anwar El Ghazi after his highly successful loan last season, and we’ve added Jota from our noisy neighbours, getting rid of life-long Small Heath fan Gary Gardner for good measure. Even without seeing Jota in action, it’s probably safe to say we have got the best of that particular deal.
Having lost the likes of Glenn Whelan, Albert Adomah and Mile Jedinak already this summer, Birkir Bjarnason seems destined to leave as well, having failed to force his way into the squad on a regular basis since Dean Smith’s arrival. So the midfield is an area of weakness and needs recruitment.
By all accounts, highly-rated Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips has become a leading target, expected to command a fee in the region of £14m. He’s a player who fits the bill of young players of huge potential who will improve the squad.
— John Percy (@JPercyTelegraph) June 12, 2019
Also gaining traction are suggestions that Villa are in pole position for Liverpool’s Ryan Kent, who spent last season on loan with Steven Gerrard at Rangers. A fee of £12m should be enough to secure the winger.
Were those two to join up, we’d be looking at a midfield of Jack Grealish, SJM, Conor Hourihane, Henri Lansbury, El Ghazi, Jota, André Green, Phillips and Kent. I’d say that covers pretty much all of the bases, at around a cost of around £35m.
That would leave plenty of money to splash the cash where it matters most – and where we are at our weakest – the strikers. Breaking news in the last couple of days is that we have signed 22-year-old Brazilian striker Wesley Moræs from Club Brugge in Belgium for a reported fee of £22m.
To be honest, I (and many others!) have never heard of him, but it is certainly a statement of intent from the club and to be fair, the last unheard-of striker we signed from the Belgian League didn’t turn out too badly for us, did he?
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) June 13, 2019
Along with Wesley, we’re left with Jonathan Kodjia, Keinan Davis and Scott Hogan as the senior strikers on our books, with Tammy Abraham currently unlikely to return.
Hogan has consistently misfired since his expensive capture from Brentford and the latter months of last season saw him farmed out on loan to Sheffield United. He’s keen to fight for his Villa future, but DS can’t go into a Premier League season on a wing and a prayer, so at least one new striker is surely incoming.
Media has predictably linked us with Brentford’s Neal Maupay, who has an eye-catching 37 goals (and 13 assists) in 85 games in his time at the Bees. Newcastle outcast Dwight Gayle is also available, as well as his West Brom partner in (ahem) crime Jay Rodriguez, possibly available for £5m after the Baggies failure to secure promotion.
But are these players real Premier League quality? Would we be better served testing Chelsea’s resolve with an offer for Tammy Abraham? There has been much debate on whether Abraham himself is good enough for the Premier League – he has shone in the Championship at Villa and Bristol City, but he had a less successful spell at Swansea, albeit in a relegation-bound team.
But the boy is only 21 and Chelsea appear reluctant to let him go permanently, so there’s got to be something in his locker, surely? He looked at home in a Villa shirt as he became the first player since Peter Withe to score 20 league goals and his team-mates at B6 love the guy, so why not make a cheeky bid?
Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge are available on free transfers – despite their iffy injury records, would they be worth a shout? When fit, both are proven Premier League goal-scorers, so would it really be much of a risk to offer either (or both!) of them a two-year deal?
Sturridge or Welbeck, Wesley, Kodjia, Davis and (a hopefully revitalised) Hogan would certainly offer options up front and even allowing for the wage demands of Sturridge or Welbeck, the lack of a transfer fee may allow us to bring them in without breaking the bank. But if we’re going to spend, why not Tammy?
Comments and thoughts are most welcome (and encouraged!) and for a deeper dive, head over to the forum for more in-depth discussion and to add your voice to the debate.
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