Aston Villa’s history like most football clubs is littered with near misses in the transfer market. Whether it be Gary Lineker, Juninho or Frank Lampard. Signings that no doubt would have significantly improved the club’s fortunes and potentially altered the club’s history.
It came to MOMS attention, that two players that Villa were linked to, were a lot closer to signing for the club than perhaps the ‘rumour status’ in the press made out.
MOMS was privy to information this week from a source who was at the club during Paul Lambert’s reign at Villa. On top of confirmation of the unsavoury going-ons at Villa behind the scenes, there was mention of Villa being very close to signing both Dele Alli and Romelu Lukaku (amongst others) – to the extent that contracts were apparently drawn up.
Belgian Double Dream
As you will probably remember, after he left Villa, Paul Lambert mentioned he was in for Lukaku when he first came to the club.
“I knew that the club needed big players to come in and we couldn’t go and get them,” said Lambert. “I remember speaking to (Romelu) Lukaku when I first went there.
“It was players like that, that I wanted to try and bring in.”
Initially, Lambert was under the illusion that he would have funds to spend.
According to the source, Lambert wanted to get Villa up and running by pairing up Lukaku with his fellow Belgian, Christian Benteke.
In his first season at Chelsea (the season before Lambert arrived at Villa), Lukaku was cutting a frustrating figure playing in the Chelsea reserves and only made his league team debut in the final game of the season. He infamously said he didn’t want to get involved celebrating the club’s Champions League win because he didn’t feel part of it and he refused to touch the trophy. The following season he would head out on loan to West Brom (then Everton the following season).
So, allegedly, Lukaku was seriously open to a Villa switch before entertaining the Baggies loan move.
Chelsea would have obviously been looking to recoup and make something on the £10m they had originally paid Anderlecht for Lukaku. Even if the deal was for £12m to £15m, Lambert was confident it would be beneficial to Villa, both immediately on the pitch and as he told Lerner, also in the long-term in terms of profit from any outgoing transfer fee.
Lerner, previously burnt by Martin O’Neill’s spending and the record circa £20m Darren Bent signing, said, ‘no’.
For Lambert (and Villa), it was very much a case of the wrong place at the wrong time.
Imagine Benteke and Lukaku up front for Villa…we might have actually beaten Bradford City in that League Cup semi-final!
The prospect of signing Dele Alli would come at an even worse time for Lambert in terms of his transfer budget (or lack of one). Cast you mind back to the Scots’ last season at Villa and he began it with a summer budget of just £5m (confirmed by source), after he had brought Joe Cole and Kieran Richardson in on free transfers.
Fast-forward to January 2015 and the rumours of Aston Villa’s interest in Deli Alli, were not only true, but again MOMS is informed that the contract was drafted up and it was allegedly all ready to go.
At the time, it was believed by some newspapers that Villa were going to take advantage of Newcastle, the favourites for the midfielder’s signature, managerial uncertainly.
The press stated, Villa wanted to pay £2 million up front for the 18-year-old, then loan him back, and then pay the rest of the £5 million fee total in the summer. The structure of the deal suggests that the Villa board were trying to get it past Lerner.
Lambert again informed Lerner, that he could eventually make millions on the deal. After all, Alli then was already being dubbed ‘ the new Gerrard’ in some quarters. Maybe Lerner just thought, ‘well, that’s what they were calling Gary Gardner at one stage!’
In the end, the Villa owner was uninterested (or not convinced) and just said no to the deal.
While everyone dillied and dallied over the midfield prospect, Spurs scooped him up on a five-and-a-half-year deal, paying the initial fee of £5 million (with extras built-in) in one go. Spurs then loaned him back (as Villa were going to do) to help the Dons win promotion and Alli the Football League Young Player of the Year Award.
The rest is history.
Both of these Lukaku and Alli stories are enough to make grown Villa supporters cry. It proves the lack of interest from Lerner, even though Lambert – to be fair to him – was trying to build something at the club and forward plan (in terms of getting in players that would increase in value).
When you look at the overspending on players in comparison that has occurred since Villa have been in the Championship, it’s enough to give you an instant migraine.
Villa could probably have got Lukaku in for a fraction more than it cost them to buy Ross McCormack and they would have got Alli in for the same price of Aaron Tshibola. Also, with such talent on board, it’s very unlikely Villa would have got relegated in the 2015/16 season.