Tony Xia might have constructed a competetive squad at Villa Park but he surely wouldn't have let these stars walk out the door.
Of all the mistakes Aston Villa have made in recent seasons, letting these five leave must surely rank amongst the worst. For the record, their exits hardly swelled the coffers either.
Villa thought they were getting a better deal when they traded the Barcelona B starlet for experienced, lower league veteran Albert Adomah after dropping into the Championship last season. Yet, while Adomah’s four assists represents a rather respectable tally, the lightning-powered pace and rapid dribbling of Adama Traore could have come in quite handy for Bruce.
Middlesbrough’s survival hopes may well rest on the counter-attacking thrust of their explosive winger.
Released by Villa in 2014, Premier League champion in 2016. Yes, Marc Albrighton was a talented youngster, a Bodymoor Heath graduate with a crossing ability bordering on Beckhamesque, but no one would have anticipated that he would get his hands on a league winner’s medal when Leicester City handed him a lifeline and a four-year contract. Certainly not Paul Lambert.
After three years of loyal service, Welsh international Collins probably felt he deserved more than to be ushered out of the door to West Ham with just a year remaining on his contract.
Ironically, Villa could have done with his experience, no-nonsense commitment and body-on-the-line blocks as they slinked out of the Premier League with Jolean Lescott seemingly more interested than choosing the right filter for his £120,000 Mercedes than actually, you know, defending.
Martin O’Neill was quick to claim that he wanted Northern Ireland midfielder Steven Davis, the club’s Player of the Season, to stay and fight for his place at Aston Villa rather than join Fulham in 2007. That was the problem, however. Davis wanted guaranteed first team football and the former Celtic gaffer simply couldn’t guarantee that at Villa Park, with Gareth Barry, Stiliyan Petrov and Nigel Reo-Coker all fighting for two midfield positons.
These days, ten years on, he’d walk into Bruce’s current side having forged a reputation as one of the league’s most unsung players and a constant amid the annual upheaval at Southampton.
Nicknamed ‘The Hammer’ for his piledriver long-rangers, German midfielder Hitzlsperger certainly delivered a heavy blow to Aston Villa when he left for Stuttgart in 2005. Unable to agree new deal at the Midlands club due to concerns over his lack of game time, the 52-time international then promptly lifted the Bundesliga title with current second tier strugglers Stuttgart.