Is there room for one more?
With the imminent addition of a defensive midfielder, Paul Lambert will be looking add a few final pieces to his 2014 / 15 Aston Villa squad. If the reports of a £10 million kitty are to believed there may be one last piece of the jigsaw to bring in with the change from the Carlos Sanchez deal.
The manager has so far concentrated on reinforcing Aston Villa’s defence with the reintegration of Hutton and the signings of Phillipe Senderos, Aly Sissokho and Carlos Sanchez (who you probably won’t see cross the half-way line in a Villa shirt!).
Lambert’s only acquisition in a creative position so far this summer has been the signing of free agent Joe Cole.
Cole only started six games for West Ham last season so the manager will know that he is not a player who can be counted on to play in every match. Charles N’Zogbia also has a history of picking up injuries during his Aston Villa career, from minor injuries to the serious achilles injury he suffered last season. N’Zogbia (28) and Cole (32) both have experience to add to Villa’s attacking play, but the need to add another attacking midfielder is clear.
Lambert’s earlier rumoured interest in Chelsea’s Victor Moses (now on loan at Stoke), suggests the Villa boss does have his eye on boosting his options going forward.
Weimann, Gabby, N’Zogbia, Cole and Grealish are able to play on both flanks and this means that Lambert has greater flexibility when considering players to add to his attacking positions.
Below are a few options that Lambert could consider adding before the transfer window closes.
The 22-year-old former Real Madrid Castilla player remains at Getafe having been developed slowly over the course of last season. Sarabia featured more regularly as a substitute for Getafe as Luis Garcia preferred the more pragmatic and experienced Lafita. However, Sarabia’s ability to create chances in the final third of the pitch remains undimmed.
Sarabia consistently provides solutions when Getafe are in need of a goal and created 5 assists in 21 appearances (12 of which were as a substitute). His ratio of 1 assist every 4 games is impressive for a 22-year-old who has been in and out of the team. Whilst at Real Madrid, Sarabia was a favourite of the late great Alfredo Di Stefano and Jose Mourinho gave the youngster his debut against Auxerre in the Champions League.
The young midfielder is known for his vision, dribbling technique and ability to play behind the main striker as a number 10. Sarabia is equally as impressive in the right midfield position and has played in both positions for Spain under 21’s and Getafe. The negative side of his game is his defensive work, but as a player to provide an assist and work in between the lines he would be a good understudy to Cole and could be developed slowly alongside the likes of Jack Grealish and Callum Robinson.
Serge Gnabry (loan)
Arsenal’s 19-year-old starlet is available for transfer this summer with a host of clubs looking to take him on loan. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has encouraged the player to play regular first team football in the Premier League which has ignited the interest of Palace, Sunderland and Saints.
Gnabry is very fast and like Sarabia he enjoys taking on defenders. Serge Gnabry made five appearances for Arsenal last season, mainly as a substitute, following his previous appearances for Arsenal in the 2012/13 season where he played against Schalke in Champions League.
The young German playmaker has impressed fans with his pace, technique and trickery and like most talented young players, Gnabry has been promoted above his age group.
Gnabry was nominated for the Golden Boy award in 2013 and found the net for Arsenal against Swansea in one of his five appearances in the Premier League. Gnabry also and won a penalty away at Crystal Palace which helped Arsenal to pick up a 2 – 0 away win at a difficult stadium.
Gnabry can play on the wing or behind the striker which would be an advantage to Paul Lambert who could require additional options in both positions.
Jordon Ibe (loan)
The Liverpool youngster is a player who has developed rapidly in the last six months. The 18-year-old midfielder went on loan to local rivals Birmingham City on 21 February 2014 and made 11 appearances, scoring one goal.
Ibe is often compared to Raheem Sterling as they have a similar playing styles and build, although Ibe is more thickly set. The Liverpool youngsters are unlikely to link up this season however as Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers has signed Lallana and Markovic and Liverpool’s wide areas now look well stocked.
Ibe, like Sterling, enjoys putting defenders on their backside and the youngster has plenty of intelligence and creativity needed to play either on the wing or behind the striker. Ibe has been extremely impressive in Liverpool’s pre season games and has naturally linked up well with Liverpool’s growing squad of young playmakers.
Ibe produced a man of the match performance against Shamrock Rovers in May where he provided two assists for Aspas and Borini. Ibe has continued to impress for Liverpool in pre season games following the summer break.
The 25-year-old Belgian was a player rumoured to be in Lambert’s sights last summer when the Villa manager was looking to add an attacking midfielder. Benteke knows the player well having played with him at international level and the signing of Chadli would likely please Villa’s number one striker.
Reports this week suggest that Spurs are looking to sell the Belgian to make way for new signings and the burgeoning form of Erik Lamela.
Chadli is able to play wide or behind the striker and his more sturdy physique may be a factor which Lambert could consider if he is to play Grealish and N’Zogbia regularly in the wide positions. Chadli is an attractive player to watch as is able to sway in and out of defences elegantly.
Chadli scored 1 goal and provided 3 assists in 15 appearances last season for Spurs, which is respectable when considering that he was used sporadically by the erratic Tim Sherwood. It is worth nothing that Chadli’s performances improved during the season and he is by no means ‘deadwood’. Chadli’s record for FC Twente is admirable with 25 goals in 84 matches and he would be a quality addition to Paul Lambert’s squad in my opinion.
Another Belgian option is Maxime Lestienne who has failed to make a move away from Club Bruges this summer despite a lot of interest from CSKA Moscow and Milan. The 22-year-old winger is ready for the next step in his career, although he is not the finished article and still has plenty of room to develop.
Lestienne is considered one of Belgium’s rising stars alongside the likes of Thorgan Hazard and a move to the Premier League this season would be sure to benefit his development. Lestienne is more similar in style to Gerard Deulofeu and his exciting dribbles would be sure to reignite the passion of Villa supporters who have been used to some very turgid displays from the team in the last few seasons.
Lestienne is an able goal scorer and he is more of a direct goal scoring threat than some of the other options listed above with his speed and directness.
The young Belgian can also provide assists for the likes of Benteke who would be sure to benefit from Lestienne’s ability to get in behind defences. Villa’s counter attacking style would suit Lestienne, although his ability to beat defenders may also benefit the team in home games. The only problem may be the issue of price as Club Bruges have been rumoured to want a decent amount for the player.