Aston Villa’s Remaining Squad Strengthening
While Dean Smith admitted to being “probably one short in the squad at the moment” in his most recent press conference, he suggested any other business Aston Villa would do in this transfer window would be done in the forward or midfield departments.
With both Ally Samatta and Scott Hogan now off the books, there’s perhaps room for another striker, although that’s a bit of a mystery who would fit the scope of what Villa would be willing to pay, if they are just looking to cover Wesley’s absence in the short-term.
Another striker coming in would perhaps turn things around for Villa. They were third favourites for the drop when the season kicked off and even Dean Smith was one of the favourites to be the first manager for the chop this season.
However, with optimism rising amongst the ranks, Villa are now priced at around 11/4 for a top ten finish with bookies like Betfair, so anyone looking to back them at this price can also take advantage of bonus offers from UK sportsbooks to give themselves an edge.
In terms of midfield, it would seem from press reports Villa are trying to leverage a loan deal for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with the 24-year-old still working his way back from a long-term injury, having not featured in Chelsea’s Premier League match day squads so far this season.
Originally, it had been rumoured that Ross Barkley was also being considered, but that seemed unrealistic from the off, considering the England midfielder is still in Chelsea’s match day squads and commands huge wages.
You get the feeling it is very much a case of ‘if opportunity knocks’, in terms of pulling off the Loft-Cheek deal, with the focus on getting a striker in.
Defensive Transfer Link and Problems
However, there are still concerns regarding Villa’s defence. Last season Villa conceded more goals (67) than every Premier League team bar Norwich City (75), and arguably without the reorganisation undertaken during the lockdown period, that was attributed to vastly improved performances during the restart period, Villa would have been relegated.
Ezri Konsa stepped up and Douglas Luiz was a different player, offering the defence better protection from midfield, as both improved in the restart period. This term, the arrival of Matty Cash from Nottingham Forest looks to be an upgrade on Frederick Gilbert, who still has a role to play, while Villa will hope Matt Targett can find more consistency on the left-hand side than last season.
Despite what Smith said in his pre-Fulham press conference, the most recent Villa transfer link has been with F.C. Copenhagen centre-back Victor Nelsson. Is the link for the 21-year-old for real though? Or is it simply a case of the Danish outlet Eekstrabladet making up the link largely due to Villa’s new Sporting Director Johan Lange coming from the same club?
Villa centre-back Björn Engels recently returned to training after a sustained absence due to injury/s and there has been talk of him potentially being on the transfer list.
Engels, despite a rush of blood against Spurs, has largely proven himself able in the Premier League, and impressed for Villa especially in the early part of last season. So as one of Villa’s squad of four centre-backs, there would be few complaints.
If Villa were getting any defenders in, they would have to be first team improvements. Is Nelsson going to displace Tyrone Mings or Ezri Konza? Certainly not anytime soon. So the only chance that Nelsson has is if Engels is actually off. Then the promising young centre-back will have the opportunity to develop.
So, we’ll see what happens with Engels first, before getting too concerned about the Dane.
Meanwhile, you get the feeling after restricting opposition teams to just three shots across the last four games of last season, then another clean sheet in the opening game of this season, Smith will be happy with his defensive personnel and organisation.
Villa’s Head Coach was probably true to his recent words about Villa’s remaining transfer business in terms of the final areas of focus.
The question is though, do Villa have enough defensively in their squad to cover defensive talisman Tyrone Mings, if he had a period on the sidelines?