January Thrift

Aston Villa received a sum in the region of £6 million for Rudy Gestede this week as the out-of-sorts striker left for Middlesbrough. This was around the same price Villa purchased him for from Blackburn Rovers, but he never displayed the same kind of eye for goal at Villa Park as he had for Rovers.

While there’s been reports of Tony Xia fronting up an extra £25m to spend in the January transfer window, do Villa really need to spend such amounts? When club’s know you have money, player prices tend to get inflated. You only have to recall Villa’s summer spend of over £50m – did they really get value for money?

“If you look at us we’ve spent fortunes in the summer. The club spent fortunes last summer and fortunes the previous summer. That wasn’t the answer.” – STEVE BRUCE

In terms of the needs of the squad and Bruce’s experience of building Championship promotion teams, maybe just the money from Gestede’s recent sale could finance the tweaks needed in January, if Bruce is a shrewd operator.

Villa are 8/1 outsiders to win the playoffs, but those with faith and bitcoins to spend may wish to have a punt on the Sportsbet website, as it maybe good value even if Villa don’t spend big.

Goalkeeper

This is already deal done after Bruce got 23-year-old Manchester United keeper Sam Johnstone in on loan, thus saving any major transfer outlay on addressing one of Villa’s weak spots. If Johnstone lives up to his early promise then this could be a smart move and put back the serious decision making on the Villa number one situation to the summer.

Right-back

Due to Ritchie De Laet’s season-long injury, Villa have an excuse to replace Alan Hutton as their right-back with a loan. This would be a welcome move in improving the dynamic of the team both defensively and going forward. A more capable right-back linking up with Adomah will only improve Villa’s threat down the right side.

Box-to-box Midfielder

Villa have desperately needed a decent box-to-box midfielder since the loss of Fabian Delph (no, he’s not coming back). The sale of the former Leeds United player to Manchester City at the start of the 2015-16 season was one of the nails in Villa’s coffin that led to their relegation from the top tier.

 

The ideal man for this role could be Henri Lansbury, whose current contract with Nottingham Forest is due to expire in the summer. Bruce has stated that he is highly interested in signing the midfielder and as we reported earlier, it seems Forest themselves have reluctantly come to terms with him potentially exiting the City Ground for around £3 million. But with other interested parties such as Derby County and Celtic reportedly after the former Arsenal man, Villa must act fast.

While on loan during his time at Arsenal, Lansbury has already helped two teams get been promoted from the Championship twice; once with Norwich City and once with West Ham United. In addition to this much-needed experience he can bring the drive that Villa have lacked in midfield. The 26-year-old has already notched 6 goals and 3 assists in 16 league starts this season and is a player who can really push the team forward.

If Aaron Tshibola steps up, a midfield three of Jedinak, Tshibola and Lansbury suddenly looks better than what we’ve been fielding so far this season.

With £3m potentially left from Gestede’s kitty, it’s the kind of amount that could also get in another talented Championship-level midfielder like Conor Hourihane.

With Hourihane and Lansbury in the middle, you’re certainly got the potential to be one of the best midfields in the league.

Another option is to maybe look around Europe and get in an older and talented head in, the same way Leicester City managed to get in Esteban Cambiasso. Obviously it depends on who is available, but it’s an avenue worth considering – whether on a short-term deal or loan.

ACON Striker Cover

Villa need to act faster than most in the January transfer window as theirs is the Championship squad which has been most adversely affected by the Africa Cup of Nations. Two key players have departed, with Jordan Ayew getting a call-up for Ghana and Jonathan Kodjia joining up with the Ivory Coast. Kodjia particularly will be sorely missed as the 27-year-old has contributed 9 goals in 19 league appearances this season.

Now Bruce has already claimed that Gabby Agbonlahor is like a “new signing”, while MOMS feels his day is done, considering Ayew’s limited contribution this season, lets consider Gabby as cover for the Ghanian.

When it comes to replacing Kodjia’s goal threat, maybe we’ve already spent the money to cover him. After all, we did spend around £12m on Ross McCormack and surely it’s time for him to step up, so that Bruce can focus on midfield signings in January.

 

 

The former Fulham frontman has been a terror for defences in the Championship (see above video) for years but hasn’t quite clicked yet for Villa. The 30-year-old scored 38 goals in two seasons for the Cottagers and if he can recapture that form now, he could spearhead a play-off push before Kodjia gets his flight back from Gabon. Maybe it’s just a case of him knowing he’s the main man.

There’s been talk that if Villa are to get another striker in to replace Gestede/cover ACON, then it would be a loan to the end of the season. It’s unlikely after their spend on Kodjia and McCormack in the summer, they’d spend big on Jordan Rhodes, for example.

Would Rhodes come on loan? Well, it’s more likely than a permanent deal, but from Villa’s POV do they really need to buy or loan a striker for just a month? Possibly such a fix would be loaning an MLS striker up to February – are there any Robbie Keane’s about?

If up to £12m has been spent on McCormack, surely Villa should put their trust in him to deliver, as it’s reinforcements in the centre of the park that are the most vital. Without solid players to control the flow of play and drive the team forward, it compromises the potential of whatever strikers Villa have at their disposal.

Update – McCormack Disciplined and sidelined

Not Over Yet

With half the season still to go, Villa still have a strong chance of clinching a ticket to the Premier League via the playoffs. Bruce is often mooted as a promotion specialist and should know exactly what recruitments are needed this January.

With the right loans and getting in Lansbury nearing the end of his contract for around £3m, Villa don’t necessary have to splash the cash for the sake of it. It’s more about getting in the right final pieces to finally create the balance of a proper team.

Let Rudy pick up the tab for it.

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