Yesterday, MOMS coincidentally was at Bodymoor Heath to meet Steve Bruce for the latest Fans Consultation Group meeting (some fan questions about it answered here). The informal meeting took place as Villa’s training ground buzzed with transfer-related activity, as potential Villa players and also agents were about the place meeting with the Villa boss during the day.
There’s no doubt that’s where Bruce’s focus is at the moment, finally trying to get his own players in. At the moment, the Villa boss is very much using the money leveraged by the sale of Rudy Gestede, as MOMS suggested at the start of the window.
It looks like this past week, has been a core stage in rebuilding the Villa midfield in an astute manner compared to the free wheeling cash splashing of the summer.
The traditional and most civilised way of concluding any deal is with a firm handshake between gentleman and that’s exactly what MOMS had with Villa’s new right-back acquisition James Bree at Bodymoor Heath yesterday.
After MOMS and other members of the Fan Consultation Group had concluded a meeting with Villa boss Steve Bruce (some fan questions about it answered here), we were introduced to Villa’s latest signing to welcome him to the club.
The Wakefield-born 19-year-old has a top draw northern accent and was clearly excited by his move. It was clearly still sinking in, while we all made small talk.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see if Bruce will blood Bree right-away.
Villa were hoping to officially announce the Bree signing Tuesday evening, but things have been a bit frantic over at Bodymoor with Bruce certainly working overtime with agents and other players in Villa’s training complex. Still, at least it’s been announced now.
Speaking of activity at BMH…
You’ll remember him from Iceland’s overachieving exploits in Euro 2016, he was the midfielder with the hair who scored against Portugal. The one who looks like and takes his nickname from Thor, the God of Thunder. One Birkir Bjarnason of Basel has now been officially announced.
This was a signing that has come right out of left-field and seems to have moved swiftly. Despite reports of Bjarnason flying in today (Wednesday) for a medical, MOMS was told while we were visiting Bodymoor yesterday that Thor and his agent were actually in the building.
In discussing with Bruce what the Icelandic international of over 50 games potentially will bring to the team, his endeavour, energy and application were certainly key factors. He’s a midfielder who can run beyond the strikers, but also can defend as well.
The fact he’s coming from the ever resilient and hard-working Basel team (they’re actually the Iceland of the Champions League) is a clear sign of the kind of player Villa are getting.
Also, the Icelandic international’s arrival puts questions marks on Jordan Ayew’s position at the club, with Bruce maybe looking to use the 28-year-old on the left-hand side (he’s played in various positions for Basel).
Remember Ayew suffered a drop in wages in conjunction with Villa’s relegation and now finds himself on the fringes of the first team set-up. With Bruce now looking for consistency and an all-hands-on-deck approach from players, the frustrating talent of Ayew is perhaps surplus to requirements.
Together with James Chester, in Bjarnason, Villa will now boast two success stories from the 2016 Euros amongst its ranks.
Hourihane Hold Up
As mentioned previously, Bruce has been perhaps unlucky that two of the clubs that Villa have been dealing with in the transfer window have had issues at board level that have slowed transfers down.
After the Forest ownership (and managerial) situation didn’t help the speed of the Henri Lansbury purchase, the recent exit of Barnsley chief executive Linton Brown has slowed down both the Bree and Hourihane transactions.
Still, with the postponing of Villa’s fixture with Bristol City this month, Bruce has at least received some kind of buffer period to complete the deals.
Bruce did enthuse about the potential asset of Hourihane to MOMS and the visiting fan group at BMH, with his left peg seen as giving Villa real balance in midfield and also a real proper threat from set pieces.
Update – Confident this deal will go ahead. Maybe the hold-up is to allow Barnsley to announce a replacement first, to sweeten their fans. The Crystal Palace rumours are either nonsense or agent talk to influence negotiations.
Rhodes a Cul de Sac?
As Bruce has already disclosed to the press, he reaffirmed Villa had been seriously interested in Middlesborough’s Jordan Rhodes, but only at a price they thought was reasonable. Does the interest remain? It’s unlikely Villa’s principled stance over the price will change, but depending on how the rest of the window shapes up, circumstances could change from the Boro end.
Watch this space, as Bruce did indicate he’s looking to have two main strikers in his ideal Championship Villa team.
As mentioned in a previous Transfer Daily, a supposed chase for 19-year-old Wolfsbury winger, according to reports yesterday seems to be over due to Everton swooping in for the player on a possible loan move.
He wasn’t discussed with Bruce during the meet up.
Jonathan Kodjia will be back sooner then expected after the Ivory Coast crashed out of the African Cup of Nations at the group stages. Kodjia will be back in the country this week.
Meanwhile, Jordan Ayew will extend his stay in Gabon with Ghana processing into the knockout stages.
Follow MOMS on Twitter for sanity and facts during the transfer window – @oldmansaid