Aston Villa Transfer News and Rumours Tracker: Week of December 23
With the festive period in full swing and just over eight days to go until the January transfer window opens, media outlets continue to fill their content with news and rumours.
Now, in the latest edition of our transfer tracker, we take a look at the speculation surrounding Aston Villa, with two players possibly making an exit in January and another hoping to secure a lucrative deal.
Stoke Want Stephen Ireland on Permanent Basis
According to the Mirror, Stoke manager Mark Hughes would like to turn Stephen Ireland's loan move into a permanent deal in January.
Ireland joined Villa from Manchester City in 2010 after seeing his chances severely diminished due to the influx of high-profile stars following the takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group.
The Irish midfielder arrived at Villa in the hope of reigniting a career that had fizzled out somewhat, though the 27-year-old has been reduced to just 47 league appearances for the Claret and Blues as well as two loan spells at other Premier League clubs.
However, Ireland has impressed during his time at the Potteries—sufficiently enough for Hughes to want the midfielder in his ranks on a full-time basis.
In an interview with the Mirror, Hughes said:
Stephen is doing really well and we would like to make it more permanent.
There could be that possibility in January.
We could do it just for the flexibility to get us another loan. If there is nothing to use that loan on, though, there might be no point in doing it. We’ll have to wait and see.
Despite Ireland's immense talent, question marks over his application and desire have loomed large during his time in Birmingham and, with £60,000-per-week wages, Villa boss Paul Lambert may be keen to offload the midfielder.
Nicklas Helenius to Be Sent out on Loan
Nicklas Helenius could be sent out on loan after less than six months at the club, according to Danish newspaper BT Lund.
The Denmark international joined Villa from Aalborg BK during the summer transfer window in a move worth a reported £1.2 million. However, the striker has failed to impress so far and, according to his agent, may be keen on a loan move to gain some vital playing experience.
The 22-year-old has only managed three Premier League appearances this season, featuring for a combined total of 52 minutes, and has not been able to get on the score sheet.
Helenius' agent, Mads Bach, has assured the Villa faithful that it is his client's desire to become a success at Villa Park but, due to his young age, thinks he would benefit from being offered playing time elsewhere.
As reported by the Birmingham Mail, Bach told BT Lund:
Nicklas is at the age where he will have as much time as possible. A rental will not necessarily be a defeat for him if it comes to that.
The most important thing is that he develops and overlooks the playing time. We are in constant dialogue with Aston Villa, and I expect that we will have a word with them again when the transfer window opens.
Marc Albrighton Hoping for New Deal
The 24-year-old impressed during his month-long loan spell with the Latics and was recalled by Paul Lambert despite then-manager Owen Coyle expressing his desire to keep the youngster.
Albrighton was handed his first start in almost a year—since New Year's Day—for the 3-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United and was Villa's brightest player.
He gave United full-back Patrice Evra problems throughout the 90 minutes, displaying the type of form that saw him a regular in the Villa side over recent years.
The winger started his career with Villa and has so far spent 15 years at his boyhood club, but his contract expires in the summer and he is hoping to secure a new deal before then.
Albrighton told the Birmingham Mail:
If I can play games and show the manager what I'm capable of, who knows what will happen?
I said at the start of the season it's a massive year and now I've got into the starting line-up hopefully I can keep my place and get a few more games.
He has always told me I'm in his plans and to get back to where I was. That's what I'm aiming to do and if I can do that then brilliant.