Aston Villa Fire Sale?
With Tony Xia and his cronies desperate to further lower the Aston Villa wage bill, a bunch of Aston Villa end of contract players will be out of the club, by the end of the month, but who can potentially join them?
Xia’s board have saddled the club once again with players on inflated wages and long-term contracts.
Most disappointing are the six permanent buys in the winter window of 2016/17 made by Steve Bruce, that should have formed the basis of his team – Conor Hourihane, Scott Hogan, Birkir Bjarnason, James Bree, Henri Lansbury and Neil Taylor.
Only Hourihane started in the first XI for the play-off final, while the Villa boss spent more money on loans and additional players to supplement and cover them.
Surely if Bjarnason was given more chance in the central midfield role he later excelled in, there would have been little need to get in the ageing Glenn Whelan? While it could be argued that Axel Tuanzebe came in to replace Tommy Elphick to cover centre-back, he ended up playing instead of James Bree at right-back (Bree is reported to be on £23,000-a-week).
‘Experience, experience, experience,’ preached Bruce and the Villa board, but unfortunately, it resulted in failure and an ageing squad with very little sell-on value (if any).
While Xia can of course attempt to trim the wage bill, it’s unlikely beyond Grealish and Chester, that Villa have any players to sell in terms of big fees to balance the books. And those two players are the first two you’d need to keep, if Villa want to be promotion contenders next season.
When Aston Villa Player Contracts End
Contract up this month (June 30)
John Terry, Gabby Agbonlahor, Alan Hutton, Mark Bunn, Chris Samba
John Terry has already terminated his deal a month ahead of the official date and it’s difficult to see any renewals for the rest of these. With other full backs at the club, even a new reduced deal for Alan Hutton looks unlikely. They would have to move on Ritchie De Laet permanently, before they even entertained it. So, unless he can find a new club, it’s a period of limbo for Hutton.
Keeping Samba or Bunn on cut-price short-term deals perhaps wouldn’t be beneficial either when youth players can act as back-up players.
With Sam Johnstone, Axel Tuanzebe and Lewis Grabban’s wages off the books, Villa would have a decent wage reduction, before they start to get brutal.
Next summer (June 2019)
Carles Gil, Tommy Elphick, Micah Richards, Jed Steer, Ritchie De Laet, Mile Jedinak, Glenn Whelan, Jordan Lyden, Easah Suliman, Oscar Borg, Mitch Clark.
You’d expect Jed Steer to start out as Villa’s number one next season, but he’s in the position that if Villa saw him as their future number one (or two), they’d offer him a new contract. So, it will be interesting to see what happens to him contractually.
Micah Richards with his bountiful wage, will be a bugger to shift. He will probably be given one last chance to be a football player and a member of the squad, as it’s unlikely they’ll be any interest for the player. it would need the perfect storm of a team offering him first-team football and Richards willing to take a pay-cut to play.
Tommy Elphick remains an interesting situation, which will be discussed below.
Jedinak and Whelan have little resale value and approaching their mid-30’s won’t have much appeal for other teams. They won’t exactly be in their prime for Villa next season too.
Ritchie De Laet and Carles Gil certainly need to go. It’s unlikely that Bruce will change his spots and restyle his team to feature Gil. Jordan Lyden is a player that perhaps may attract a lower league team.
Easah Suliman will be top of the list of youth players needing renewals and that Villa should oblige despite their financial circumstances.
Jack Grealish, Pierliugi Gollini, Aaron Tshibola, James Chester, Birkir Bjarnason, Conor Hourihane, Keinan Davis, Jonathan Kodjia, Ross McCormack, Albert Adomah, Ahmed Elmohamady, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, Jake Doyle-Hayes, Andre Green, Callum O’Hare
MOMS views on Jack Grealish have already been clearly expressed. He’s a keeper, by any means necessary.
Gollini is a goner. Villa are believed to have got a fee of around £3.75m for him.
In terms of the players that might want to move on James Chester would be the number concern. If the Welsh international went, certainly Villa would be left with a massive whole in their defence, with John Terry already out of the picture. Would Tommy Elphick be rebooted? If they lost Chester first, it would be the logical choice.
What would happen if Villa lost both Elphick and Chester, with Terry and Samba out of contract? Central defence will be a situation to certainly keep an eye on.
Birkir Bjarnason perhaps will be using the World Cup as a shop window to maybe fashion a move after a frustrating time under the management of Bruce. I would have liked to have seen more of Bjarnason, but a good World Cup will probably see him go.
Aaron Tshibola remains a misfit on a long contract and he hasn’t really impressed while on loan spells away from Villa.
If Steve Bruce stays as manager and continues with his style of play, then he would be wise to keep Keinan Davis, as he is potentially the most effective target man that Villa have on their books. At the same time, he’s probably one of the only younger players that could earn a fee.
If Villa are stripped of Grealish, then you can imagine Villa relying on Kodjia once again at the expense of playing a team game, throwing up the prospect of a mid-table finish. It’s hard to see Kodjia getting a better deal anywhere else, so you’d expect him to stay put.
MOMS is still unconvinced by Hepburn-Murphy making the step up, but this will be the season to prove us wrong, as he’s unlikely to have any real sale value at the moment. Andre Green needs to develop a little more variety in his game, but next season will also be key in his development.
The likes of Jack Doyle-Hayes and Callum O’Hare should make the step up to squad players and are definite keepers.
Scott Hogan, Henri Lansbury, Neil Taylor, James Bree
These four players were very much signed by Steve Bruce as the mid-term future of his Villa team, but none of them have been first team regulars and all were absent from the first XI at Wembley.
Villa would be lucky to get half the fee of what they paid for Scott Hogan, highlighting the poor judgement by the Villa recruitment team. He’s never going to leave Villa, since his reported £40,000-a-week wage is unlikely to be matched anywhere else. The sad thing is the team is unlikely to ever play in a way under Bruce to make the striker live up to his price tag.
Neil Taylor had a confidence-sapping season, the like of which we last saw in the left-back position with Stephen Warnock. Surely he can improve to be good enough for the Championship?
James Bree, if he’s on £23,000-a-week, like it’s been made out, should be started next season. The Villa board shouldn’t waste anymore money on the right-back position.
Henri Lansbury could potentially be sold, if he’s prepared for a slight drop in wages. He may appeal to other Championship teams and he could put the Villa move down as a false start. However, if Lansbury is played further forward, I still think there’s a role for him, especially if Bjarnason jumps ship.
Will Steve Bruce actually leave before the new season kicks-off?
What do you think? Vote below in the MOMS FB poll: