Seemingly every week in the press a new American billionaire is attached to buy out Randy Lerner, each one seemingly more tenuous than the last. It’s the proverbial Groundhog Day scenario with supporters starting to regard the media with as much credibility as the boy who cried wolf.
The takeover may actually take years, just ask any Everton supporter.
Indeed Everton fans will look at what’s happening at Villa with a sense of déjà vu. Yes, they’ve had even the ‘Red Bull to Give Everton Wings’ headlines too. The asking price for Everton has been mooted at £125 million.
In a climate of uncertainty, Everton have remained competitive throughout, principally from the astute management of first David Moyes and then Roberto Martinez. The later proving with his loan signings of Lukaku and Garth Barry last season, that you don’t have to break the bank to improve your first 11.
So far we’ve seen Paul Lambert wheel and deal and in the free agent market with Joe Cole and Phillipe Senderos. Considering Senderos is only on a two-year contract, a certain section of Villa fans cried ‘Why no Lescott instead?’ The rumours say that Villa didn’t want to meet Lescott’s wages, but maybe the truth is closer to the issue of Lescott wanting to play first team football?
Is Lescott better than Vlaar and Okore? I’m not so sure. The cheaper Senderos on the other hand would be happier to be a squad member, Lescott after his spell with Manchester City, less so.
Regardless of the scope of who Lambert brings in to the club, the public detonation of the bomb squad suggests there won’t be many fresh faces incoming, if the likes of Darren Bent and Charles N’Zogbia are now to be reconsidered. The key test of how tight the purse strings will stifle Aston Villa in the short-term, will be seen when it comes to contract talks with key players in the last year of their contract.
The key test – contract renewals
Jack Grealish is expected to sign a new contract after the summer holidays. Less certain is perhaps Samir Carruthers, but his wage won’t be a big ask (update – Carruthers signed for MK Dons). Both these players though aren’t the true barometer to judge Villa’s financial thinking during the ‘for sale’ period, that will be known when it comes to the futures of Ron Vlaar, Fabian Delph and Gabby Agbonlahor. All of whom are in the final year of their contracts.
The World Cup shop window in Brazil may impact Villa captain Ron Vlaar’s decision of whether to stay or join a more successful team. If Vlaar keeps up his performances, the longer the Dutch stay in the tournament, the more desirable he will become. I’m sure Ron won’t fancy another relegation battle after tasting the heights of the later stages of the World Cup.
A decent World Cup for Benteke would have probably seen him leave Villa Park and he’s on a long-term contract. Vlaar is one year away from leaving for free next summer. Perhaps his contract should have been sorted before the World Cup started to keep him?
Speaking of international influence, there’s perhaps not been a better time to make a claim to get into the England team. That will be playing on Fabian Delph’s mind when it comes to discussing his contract at Villa. The Villa midfielder will no doubt seek improved terms and this could make for some interesting negotiations during the summer.
Both Vlaar and Delph will seek more money, but how far will Villa be willing and able to go?
Gabby Agbonlahor is perhaps less of a worry. Can you imagine Mr Aston Villa playing for anybody else? While he’s unlikely to go and is always a valuable member of any Villa squad, he’ll also perhaps be less of a loss than Vlaar and Delph, if he did seek pastures new.
The aim would be to keep all three, as they are all key parts of the spine of the team and will be needed in what will be an uncertain season ahead.
Aston Villa Expiring Contract Situation of Main Players
Contract End 2015 (final year)
Gabby Agbonlahor, Fabian Delph, Ron Vlaar, Darren Bent, Jack Grealish, Alan Hutton, Graham Burke, Daniel Johnson.
Contract End 2016 (two years left)
Shay Given, Charles N’Zogbia, Nicklas Helenius, Joe Cole, Nathan Baker, Phillipe Senderos, Joe Bennett, Ciaran Clark, Callum Robinson, Antonio Luna, Leandro Bacuna, Andi Weimann, Matt Lowton, Yacouba Sylla, Gary Gardner.
Contract end 2017 (three years left)
Christian Benteke, Brad Guzan, Libor Kozak, Jores Okore, Aleksandar Tonev, Ashley Westwood.