The event of this summer’s deadline day brings perhaps the biggest task for CEO Keith Wyness and his team, finding a way to move on Micah Richards and Gabby Agbonlahor. It’s dirty work, but someone’s got to do it.
Both players are two of the biggest wage drains on the club and have fallen sharply from grace after being captain and vice-captain respectably at the start of last season. In many ways, they were the poster boys for Villa’s dramatic relegation failure last season.
It’s been largely radio silence in terms of any movement for Agbonlahor. There were some earlier rumours about a possible move to Turkey and the revelation from BBC journo Pat Murphy that Agbonlahor had turned down a potential loan move to Reading.
Considering Gabby posted a family holiday snap from a water park today on Instagram, he doesn’t seem too active in finding a solution to his footballing situation.
There’s been a sporadic interest in Richards throughout the transfer window
First there was Sunderland who were interested in triggering his £5m release clause, that has since expired, but a management change at the club suppered that deal. Then there were a spate of Turkish club links – one Trabzonspor fan seemed so convinced the player was heading their way he created this video celebrating Richards’ time at Villa – but they seem to have faded away with a potential season-long loan to West Ham now in the offing.
MOMS fielded a few messages from West Ham fans yesterday asking for thoughts on the defender and this morning has spurned a few reports quoting ‘sources close to West Ham’.
It seems that the Hammers needed Richards as at least backup for a troublesome right-back spot.
Arsenal full-back Matthieu Debucy had been a reported option, but West Ham have settled on signing free agent Alvaro Arbeloa, the 33-year-old former Real Madrid right-back. So the trail looks dead now.
MOMS was told that Villa had some centre-back cover lined up, but it’s uncertain if that will go ahead now, if Richards stays.
As we’ve discussed previously, Wyness and Villa owner Tony Xia have done a decent job of moving out the mistakes of the last transfer window and other deadwood, even if it meant letting a few go on frees (for example: Bennett, Okore and Lescott).
The Villa fire sale though hasn’t extended to Richards and Agbonlahor so far, as their high wages complicate the picture for any club interested. It seems now season-loans are the only option.
The reality is Villa will no doubt end up paying a percentage of the wages for such loans. Despite being a Premier League club, even West Ham may try to broker Villa into paying some percentage of Richards’ wages.
It’s unlikely Agbonlahor will get any traction in the Premier League, so a loan move abroad or in the Championship may see Villa having to foot a hefty percentage of his wages.
For MOMS money, moving both of these players out of the club today would be the club’s biggest achievement on deadline day.