The Villa Choice
A lot has been said about Jordan Veretout making a mistake in choosing Aston Villa over Leicester City as his preferred destination in the summer, but glancing across some older MOMS articles, I came across another player that personally had better fortunes than Veretout when it came to choosing between Villa and another club, which people with short memories might have forgotten.
When pundits point to the reason behind Villa’s demise, not properly replacing Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph is often brought up. If this player had chosen Villa, then maybe we wouldn’t have missed the later (the one that hisses).
England’s Midfield Future
In January 2015, it was reported that Paul Lambert had a key interest in the now Spurs and England golden boy Dele Alli. Back then Alli was one of the hottest prospects in League One. The MK Dons centre midfielder had been catching the eye of many Premier League clubs with his performances that season. At the time, it was believed by some newspapers that Villa were going to take advantage of the favourites for the midfielder’s signature, Newcastle’s managerial uncertainly.
The press stated, Villa wanted to pay £2 million up front for the 18-year-old, then loan him back, and then pay the rest of the £5 million total in the summer.
Alli possessing a great engine and with goals in his game, was considered a true box-to-box player and seen as the successor and possible upgrade to Fabian Delph, who was out of contract at the end of that season (before he pulled the infamous phoney new contract PR trick, as we’ll remember it). Alli was even dubbed ‘ the new Gerrard’ in some quarters.
While others dillied and dallied over the bright prospect, Spurs scooped him up on a five-and-a-half-year deal, paying the initial fee of £5 million (with extras built-in). Spurs then did loan him back, to help the Dons win promotion and Alli the Football League Young Player of the Year Award.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but Villa could have used the £8m they would get for Delph to outbid Spurs and make promises to Alli of being a first team regular in the new Villa team for the following season. After all, Villa’s need was greater and getting into the Spurs team would have looked a tougher task to the young player. Alli, Gana, Veretout suddenly sounds better than if you slip the name Westwood or Bacuna in there.
Obviously what Alli was done at Spurs has been aided by having a decent team around him, which has helped him progress, but the comparisons Jack Wilshere prove he’s been an incredible buy for Spurs. Since Wilshere’s last game, Dele Alli has: made his Spurs debut, made his England debut and beat Wilshere’s PL goal tally by 3 in 82 fewer games.
Meanwhile, in the January window of 2015, Villa ended up with Carles Gil and a loan deal for Scott Sinclair (which was made permanent later).
Alli would have replaced Delph, but the big question was always, who was going to replace Christian Benteke?
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