By Kris Woodward
After a mass exodus of end of contract players and deadwood, Aston Villa have started to add the pieces for the 2019/20 season in the Premier League.
The two obvious loan players from last season, that were expected to have their right-to-buy clauses triggered, Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi, are now in the process of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on permanent contracts. Both, it’s expected, will be announced shortly.
Meanwhile, a signing more out of leftfield was confirmed yesterday, as Spanish midfielder Jota signed a two-year deal.
Despite calling out for a right-winger, fans wouldn’t have anticipated it would be in the form of Birmingham City’s Jota.
After a few days of the media reporting a potential swap deal including Gary Gardner, and a reported fee of around £3 to 4 million, the two deals with announced in close proximity to each other.
The move makes slightly more sense when taken into consideration that Jota played for Dean Smith at previous club Brentford. This was before a club record fee (try not to laugh) of a significant £6 million to the Blues in 2017.
Jota’s most influential season under Smith was during the 2016-17 season. Despite being initially loaned out to old club Eibar, Jota was recalled and went onto play 21 times for Brentford that season, scoring twelve and assisting five times.
This was a high for Jota who, following a move to Birmingham, scored eight goals and assisted 13 in two seasons with the Blues.
This begs the question then, where does Jota fit into Smith’s squad?
With Villa gearing up for a tough transistional season to establish themselves in the Premier League, fans could be forgiven for expecting Smith to target Premier League quality players. Whilst claiming Jota is not a Premier League player might be unfair, he is yet to play in any significant number of games in a top flight.
This question will of course be answered next season.
At the minute, Villa fans are still riding the high from Wembley. Couple this with mega-rich owners and fans will more than likely have been anticipating a marquee signing to open the summer business.
You can then forgive fans who seem disappointed that our first signing is not only a Championship player but also a player from Small Heath.
However, it’s no great mystery that Aston Villa have needed a squad overhaul for some time. If Jota is coming in to replace the outgoing Albert Adomah and act as a squad player next season, then this may be a shrewd move.
With the wage bill significantly freed you and taking into consideration that his wages will be in part be replacing Gary Gardner’s on the account sheet, a player that wouldn’t feature for Aston Villa next season anyway, then this suddenly looks like a good piece of business.
As in recent My Old Man Said podcast episodes we have proposed that Smith’s managerial approach maybe best served in the Premier League as opposed to the lower leagues, the same could potentially be said about the technically sound Spanish midfielder
“I worked with Jota at Brentford,” declared Smith. “He’s a superb, talented player and Birmingham signed him as their record transfer.
“He’s got great ability, great balance and a great eye for both goals and assists.”
On the squad list, he’s no doubt a direct replacement for Adomah and with the 10 permanent players shed in the past week, it’s a step in the right direction with the shorten two-year deal taking out the risk element of the signing.