With the process of the Glen Whelan signing from Stoke finally completed today, ending a nine-year stint for the Irish midfielder at the Potters, expect the incoming transfer door at Villa to wedge shut for the foreseeable future.
The medicals this week of both Whelan and Amed Elmohamady seem to be the last at Bodymoor Heath until existing Villa players are shipped out.
Villa owner Tony Xia, said as much in his tweet today (see below). Hinting in an equation that they’ll be none in until players leave, and suggesting there could be between five and eight earmarked to move on.
— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) July 20, 2017
Steve Bruce’s main transfer activity though in building his promotion team was in January, and at the time, it looked to be decent business. It’s the likes of Henri Lansbury, Conor Hourihane, Scott Hogan, Birkir Bjarnason and James Bree that need to step up to turn Villa into promotion team, rather than additional players coming in to play in their places.
This summer has simply seen Bruce add some trimmings.
John Terry was a little extra presence, Sam Johnstone is simply extending his initial January loan signing, while Elmohamady is a squad-strengthening tweak, with Whelan perhaps the most pivotal signing of the bunch, if he becomes an impactful enforcer of Villa’s midfield, and allows Villa’s supposed more creative players to work further up the pitch.
It’s been suggested that centre-back Chris Samba is on the brink of signing for Villa after his extended trial, but that happening will no doubt be connected to the shipping out of either/both Tommy Elphick and Micah Richards. Update – Samba has been signed up, so it looks like Elphick has agreed to a deal somewhere.
Remember, in signing Terry, Villa are already one centre-back up on last season.
Elphick is expected to got to the Blues, while Richards and his reported £60,000-a-week wage, will present Villa with a major headache in terms of moving him on.
There’s no agent on the planet that will get him the same wage elsewhere, so Villa will probably end up loaning him out and paying a sizeable % of his wage.
Then there’s the issue of right-back. It’s a stark contrast to the days of early Martin O’Neill, when Villa were without a recognised right-back at the club, and were forced to play Olof Mellberg or Carlos Cuellar in the position, before finally signing Luke Young.
Now, Villa, with the addition of Elmohamady, have six options at right-back, with five of the current squad having all played the position for Villa – Alan Hutton, Ritchie De Laet, James Bree, Leandro Bacuna, and Micah Richards.
One or two of them, certainly need to go.
Meanwhile on the left side, Jordan Amavi is still expected to leave.
In midfield, with Whelan adding to the increasing competition in the middle of the park, Gary Gardner will certainly be questioning his future at the club, as will Jack Grealish.
With the emergence of Andre Green, where does Grealish fit in now, beyond the bench? This will be one of the defining seasons in his career. If he’s as good as he’s been hyped up to be, Grealish will break through and spur us on to promotion. If not, then he may have to seek football elsewhere.
In terms of definite midfield outs, Jordan Veretout is nailed on to leave.
Up front, it seems Bruce has a soft spot for Gabby Agbonlahor and it is Ross McMormack that is most at risk of the chop, despite his efforts in preseason to rehabilitate his reputation.
With the growing competition for places, the biggest concern on the minds of most Villa supporters is will the Villa manager know his best XI and formation by the time the season kicks off?
It will be vital he does, if Villa want to start looking like a side intent on promotion.
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