By Kris Woodward
With Aston Villa’s fixtures until the end of the season now in single digits, the excitement has started to build again, after Aston Villa’s season has resurrected. Recent form has now seen Villa claim 6th spot going into the international break.
Whilst the glimmer of play-off hope is burning brighter for Villa, promotion is still a huge task. Reaching the play-offs is one thing, but then beating the teams that will more than likely secure play-off positions is another.
Two of the current Championship top four (Norwich, Sheffield United, Leeds United, and West Bromwich Albion) are as good as in the play-offs and Villa have failed to beat any of those four teams in six games, so far this season (Villa still have fixtures with Leeds and Norwich to complete).
With Villa’s future next season still in the balance, the future of several of Villa’s on-loan players is still very much uncertain.
Another season in the Championship would surely mean a major revamp of the playing squad with potentially up to 14 players leaving for free. On the other hand, if Villa can win promotion, then a few of their loan players that they’d fancy keeping, may become realistic permanent signings.
The Aston Villa on-loan lot
With the exception of Super Jack and Super John McGinn, you could argue Aston Villa’s best players this season has been those that are on-loan.
Most notable of these is Tammy Abraham who has scored 21 Championship goals this season; the first Villa player to score 20 goals in a single season since the legendary Peter White.
With Chelsea facing a transfer embargo, Tammy may fancy his chances of fighting for place at the Bridge. It’s no secret that Chelsea have struggled with strikers and Abraham has more than proved he is a capable goal scorer.
Should it not work out at Chelsea, the January interest from Wolves proves that he is on the radar of Premier League clubs. Villa would have a good chance, if they were one of them next season. Would the price be right though?
Despite his clear passion for the club, it’s unlikely fans will see him at Villa Park next season.
Before injury, Axel Tuanzebe was performing very well in a centre back partnership with James Chester. Despite still conceding quite a few goals (including the five against Nottingham Forest), his ability to bring the ball out of defence was missed when he became injured.
This week Tuanzebe has returned to training with Smith hopeful of a return to action against Blackburn (if picked). It will be interesting to see where Tuanzebe fits back into the team when all Villa’s defenders are fit.
Axel’s future is extremely uncertain, should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer get the Manchester United job, his philosophy of playing the younger players might benefit Tuanzebe.
It’s hard to see a potential third loan in three seasons back to Villa however, could a permanent move be on the cards?
Tuanzebe hasn’t fully rubber stamped his Premier League credentials yet, so Villa may have a shot to get him whatever league they find themselves next season.
After being a January signing to replace Tunzebe, Tyrone Mings has been exceptional since joining. A player who puts 100% into every performance, Mings brings composure and strength to the backline, as well as being good on the ball.
The centre-back is certainly a major reason for Villa’s upturn in form and why many Villans will fancy their chances in the run-in.
Fans would surely love to see Mings stay at Villa Park next season and a partnership with James Chester (before you think about any other centre back) would look very strong.
Whilst we have the option to match any bids this summer, his recent form, as MOMS has previously professed in the podcast, will surely lead to him being a Premier League player next season.
So, Villa know what they have to do to potentially make him permanent – get promoted.
If they do, then sorting Mings out will probably be at the top of their list.
Kortney Hause is another January signing that has recently impressed at Villa, after previously being frozen out by his parent club, Wolves.
Playing both left-back and centre-back since joining, Hause is the most likely out of Villa’s on loan contingent that will sign permanently in the summer, with a fee believed to already agreed.
His versatility to play both left-back and centre-back will excite fans make it sensible business after seeing what a solid performer he can be.
Anwar El Ghazi
A winger who divides opinions amongst fans, his form has been patchy at the best. He has provided fans with memorable moments including excellent goals against Forest and WBA.
With five goals and three assists it’s hard to say he has made a significant impact. However, this season we have seen moments of his brilliance.
He has the ability to take the ball past players with his pace and power but often his end product lacks.
He’s a work in progress, but if he has the desire then he could be a useful player for Villa in the long-term.
Whether Anwar El Ghazi stays will no doubt be down to the price and whether Smith thinks he can produce the performances we have seen at times, on a consistent basis.
Wide positions have certainly been an issue for Villa this season with arguably none of the wide-men showing any consistent form.
It also wouldn’t be a stretch to say Villa’s best deliveries this season have come from right-back Ahmed Elmohamady.
Still, there’s a few games left and Smith is starting to favour El Ghazi who seems to have fitted in well with the squad personally.
The forgotten man.
For those Villa fans who did not stay up until the 11pm deadline on January 31st, most would have gone to sleep expecting to wake up to a picture of Leroy Fer holding a Villa shirt. Instead, they were woken to the head-scratching image of Tom Carroll.
Despite fans crying out for a natural holding midfielder throughout January, due to the poor form of Connor Hourihane, the signing of Tom Carroll came as a surprise.
Carroll had only played seven times for Swansea before joining Villa, only completing 90 minutes in two of those games. It would seem that Smith had added another injury prone player to an already injury hit squad.
Playing time has been hard to come by for Carroll, only playing a total of 35 minutes in substitute appearances against Reading and Derby. He’s been nifty and energetic, but hasn’t really had chance to prove much.
With Villa’s midfielders finding form at the right time and Lansbury back from injury, it’s hard to see where Carroll will have a chance to make an impact.
This will by no means hinder any potential permanent signing come the summer.
The Summer Transfer Window
There are many factors that are still to be decided in terms of which of these players have a chance of still being Villa players next season.
Firstly, the main issue is will Villa be playing in the Championship or Premier League? Then, Villa will have the headache of FFP, which will see them scale back operations if they remain in the Championship after their parachute payments have dried up.
The recent publishing of Recon’s/ Aston Villa’s accounts made for uncomfortable reading to say the least, so NSWE will need to be in the Premier League to be free to spend.
If Villa do go up, the camaraderie created in doing so will hopefully be enough to help persuade Mings to say, if the price is right. Hause and Carroll are probably the men most likely to stay, while the rest will no doubt be in the mix-up of what should be an intriguing summer transfer window.