An in-depth assessment of Aston Villa's potential incomings and outgoings this January.
Areas to strengthen
It’s probably a better question to ask what areas don’t Villa need to strengthen? Their dismal displays in the Premier League this season sees them stuck in a relegation fight already.
Boss Paul Lambert is reputed to be more comfortable working with youngsters but they’ll have to bring in some quality and experience if they’re going to uphold their record of playing in every Premier League season since its conception.
They ideally need a goalkeeper, a right-back, a left-back, a central defender, a defensive midfielder, and a striker.
Loan offers for Manchester City’s John Guidetti and Tottenham Hotspur’s Tom Huddlestone could be a real lifeline for the Villains. Both out of favour at their clubs, they’ll feel they’ve got a point to prove.
Similarly, Stewart Downing’s time at Liverpool has been far from ideal – the Reds want rid, the player could do with a return to his former glory days and Villa could offer him sanctuary.
Franco Di Santo’s contract expires this summer and Wigan won’t want to lose him for nothing so he could be an economically sensible option up front.
Norwich and Wales striker Steve Morison is another contender up front whilst Bradley Pritchard has impressed for Charlton Athletic and will very likely make his move to the top tier this year, but Villa will face competition from Fulham and Reading.
Crewe Alexandra captain Luke Murphy is rumoured to be interesting Lambert along with Tony Pulis at Stoke City who is also interested in Glenn Murray. Villa have apparently opened the bidding for him at £2 million.
Other rumours include: Burnley striker Charlie Austin, German keeper Felix Wiedwald, Serbian’s Filip Jankovic, Hull’s James Chester, Millwall’s playmaker James Henry, French left-back Massido Haidara, Hannover striker Mame Biram Diouf, Osasuna defensive midfielder Raoul Loe and Bordeaux’s Yoan Gouffran.
Stephen Warnock, Shay Given, Alan Hutton, Richard Dunne, Charles N’Zogbia, Stephen Ireland and Darren Bent could all be made available as the club look to offload their highest paid players who are not part of Lambert’s future plans.
A maximum of £10 million could be made available to Lambert by chairman Randy Lerner who, somewhat reluctantly, has to hope that money can save his team from a more financially serious implication of relegation.
It’s tremendously difficult to gage whether or not Villa will be successful in their attempts to bring in so many additions, for so little money, in such a short period of time.
I think it’ll be a case of them taking what they can get and hoping for the best. Should they find new homes for their unwanted senior players, that would be a good start and would help with their quantative easing strategy.
They run the risk of finding themselves short of numbers if they can’t draft in ready and willing replacements. January is a make or break month for Lambert and Aston Villa, whichever way you look at it.
image: © Ben Sutherland