The January transfer rumour nonsense has already started. The Grealish to United headlines continue. Yawn. Konsa to Liverpool? LOL. Christian Eriksen to Villa? Oh, come on.
What Smith Says About January
Before entertaining articles that are purely driven by ads and not legitimate news, consider Aston Villa’s current squad situation and attitude towards this January window, as spelt out recently by Dean Smith.
“We believe we’ve got a good depth in the squad,” said Smith, after Villa’s game at Old Trafford. “We’ve got four or five players coming back from injury, which will be a big boost for us in January with the amount of games we’ve got. We’re always looking for good-value opportunities but they’ve got to be there for us to do.”
As MOMS mentioned on the most recent My Old Man Said podcast and echoed in Smith’s words, it looks like it’ll be a case of acting only if opportunities arise, rather than proactive player chasing for Villa this window.
Based on that equation, if there is any business to be done, it would probably be later on in the window, if such “good-value opportunities” arise.
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With Tom Heaton back, Wesley incoming, Barkley and Trezeguet returning, the upturn in Anwar El Ghazi’s form and Jacob Ramsey’s rise, the Villa hierarchy will probably feel there’s enough there for a decent finish to the season.
Big wins against the top teams in their remaining January fixtures to legitimise potential European aspirations, may get the juices following in the Villa recruitment team towards the end of the window, but expectations for new bodies is not high.
Financially, there’s been a huge spend across the last two summer windows and the failings of last January’s window, may add to the caution in splashing any more cash at this point in time.
As most Villa supporters would point out, there’s certainly an argument for additions to improve the quality and options on the Villa bench, but you sense from Smith’s outlook, that he’ll want to see how the current squad performs when they’re all fit.
Villa CEO Christian Purslow had indicated in the last Villa Fan Consultation Group meeting that MOMS attended, that Villa had got “almost” all their targets in the last summer window. Taking that strictly to the letter, you would consider striker Callum Wilson as the one that got away, as the player publicly admitted Villa’s approach.
With Ollie Watkins shouldering the striking responsibilities so far this season, the need for that extra striker may have been tempered a little now with Wesley nearing a return.
While reports suggest the Brazilian striker’s return looks more likely to come in February than January, he offers the potential to change the dynamic of what Smith can do. Playing Wesley more centrally, gives Smith the option of Watkins starting on the right-hand side of a front three. Or to switch in-game to two more central strikers. At the very least, Wesley provides cover for Watkins, which should lessen the responsibility on him and help freshen him up.
Playing one central striker will mean Villa would be content with Keinan Davis as a third choice on the bench. A promising player that will not bleed wages, while not in the first XI.
With his team’s morale and spirit currently high, Smith will want to keep the Villa match day squad lean, mean and motivated, so it would be a surprise if Villa did pull any major moves this window.
If an opportunity does arise, it’ll more than likely be something that fits the long-term bigger picture, rather than fulfilling any distinct need now.