Aston Villa’s best signing this summer could well prove to be getting Christian Benteke to agree a new contract when he seemed on the brink of leaving for Tottenham Hotspur, but Paul Lambert has also made several new acquisitions, and each has the potential to be a key figure at Villa Park next season.
Villa moved early to secure the arrival of Jores Okore, Alexander Tonev, Antonio Luna, Nicklas Helenius and Leandro Bacuna, five players with an average age of 21.6 between them in keeping with Lambert’s approach to the side.
Given Villa’s defensive problems last season, it is probably Okore and Luna that will have the easiest route to the first team, and they could play a huge part in ensuring that their new team are not involved in another relegation battle.
Okore impressed for Nordsjaelland in the Champions League last season, even if the Danish side were a little outgunned in their group, which contained Shakhtar Donetsk, Chelsea and Juventus, while Luna will be a considerable upgrade on Joe Bennett.
The other three players will be competing with some established players, but have the ability to force themselves into the first team. Depending on the system Lambert chooses to use Bacuna can play either as an attacking midfielder or in a more withdrawn role, where he could rotate with Ashley Westwood.
Tonev is another who can play in an attacking midfield role, and also as a left-winger. Like Bacuna, his chances might be limited at the start of the season, but the Bulgarian could become an important player as the year goes on.
Helenius will likely start as a support striker for Benteke, and is perhaps the most exciting talent of Villa’s new signings. The Dane might not be able to match Benteke’s extraordinary debut season, but he has the potential to suggest Villa might have unearthed another diamond.
Luna and Okore will help shore up the Villa defence, and are likely to have an immediate positive impact on the team, but Helenius is the man who could really impress next season if given a chance, and Villa fans should be delighted with capturing the Dane.
Villa fans, who are you most excited to see in action next season?
image: © Ben Sutherland