What?!?!? Two posts in three days?!?!!? What is this madness?!?!? Yes, it’s already time for part 2 of 20 of my series previewing Premier League Summer transfers. In case you didn’t read the title of this post (which would be a strange thing to do), this installment will cover Aston Villa.
Last Season: Villa fans were forced to suffer through one of the worst seasons in the storied history of the team. Villa narrowly avoided relegation, and finished the season in 15th. The team allowed the third most goals in the Premier League.
Forwards: The big name here is Christian Benteke. The Belgian scored 23 goals in all competitions to lead the team, and looks to make a move to a bigger team like Tottenham or Arsenal this summer. The young Danish striker Niklas Helenius, who has a somewhat similar playing style to Benteke, is being looked at as a potential replacement. Andreas Weimann also had some success, and appeared to be on his way out until he signed a contract extension, seemingly putting the kibosh on a future move. Darren Bent, former Villa star, struggled to find playing time and now wants out, with Newcastle and Hull City among the frontrunners to grab him. Australian forward Brett Holman also didn’t find as much playing time as he wanted, and looks to make a move as well. The pacy but inconsistent Gabriel Agbonlahor looks to still have a place on the team. Nathan Delfouneso could finally break into the first team after spending time on loan at Blackpool, and the 21 year old Jordan Bowery looks to see increased playing time as well. Reading’s winger Hal Robson-Kanu is another potential target, although Villa will have to compete with West Brom for his signature. The team has also shown interest in the Bulgarian striker Ivelin Popov, who plays in Russia. Scott Sinclair has also had his name bandied about, although he may try to give things at Man City another go.
Midfielders: Villa does have some depth in the midfield, although they lack anyone great. Too many of their players are merely average; no one is really “great.” Barry Bannan was okay last year, as was wide man Marc Albrighton. French winger Charles N’Zogbia continues to be a disappointment since his arrival from Wigan, and must improve. Yacouba Sylla, Karim el Ahmadi, Fabian Delph, and the young Gary Gardner all see playing time in the center midfield, with Gardner showing the most promise for the future. Ashley Westwood flashed promise last year as well. Attacking Midfielder Stephen Ireland could be on the way out due to his large wages. New signings Aleksandar Tonev and Leandro Bacuna should add to the attacking flair of the midfield. Villa has been linked with 12 million pound rated Montpellier midfielder Younes Belhanda. Belhanda may be too pricy for Villa, but his signing would be a coup for the team. Crewe Alexandria midfielder Luke Murphy is another target, and his transfer now appears to be more likely than not.
Defenders: Aston Vila’s horrid defense will be boosted by the continued development of defenders Matthew Lowton and Nathan Baker. Ciaran Clark and captain Ron Vlaar both had their moments last season, Vlaar in particular. The team desperately needs to improve its back line in order to prevent more games like their 8-0 defeat to Chelsea. Sevilla’s Antonio Luna has all but sealed a move to Villa; he should help shore up the left side of the defense, which was weak last year and was made even weaker by the release of the American Eric Lichaj. The team also brought in the young Dutchmen Jans Okore to shore up the defense. Villa is set to compete with Norwich for the signature of young Dagenham defender Luke Wilkinson.
Goalkeepers: Shay Given lost the starting job to Brad Guzan last season, and appears to be ready to leave this summer, with newly promoted Hull City being a potential destination. Guzan looks set to be the starter for the next few years, although Real Madrid reserve goalkeeper Jesus Fernandez has been floated as a potential target.
Manager: Paul Lambert is Villa’s manager. Although the team’s poor performance was somewhat unexpected, Villa did well considering that the team was the youngest in the Premier League. The future could be bright for Villa if the team builds on this past season and continues to improve. Lambert’s job should be safe as long as the team continues to grow.
Potentially In: Antonio Luna, Niklas Helenius, Hal Robson-Kanu, Luke Wilkinson, Ivelian Popov, Younes Belhanda, Luke Murphy, Scott Sinclair
Potentially Out: Christian Benteke, Darren Bent, Stephan Ireland
Already in: Jores Okore, Leandro Bacuna, Aleksandar Tonev
Already Out: Richard Dunne, Jean Makoun, Eric Lichaj