Aston Villa: 6 Players Who Should Leave Villa Park This Summer
With just seven games remaining in the Premier League season, Aston Villa are a few points from virtual safety. This leaves manager Paul Lambert in a position to begin evaluating his squad for next season before the summer transfer window opens.
Lambert has been swift to assert himself at Villa Park by bringing in a multitude of young talent while simultaneously exiling underachievers.
In addition to the likes of Darren Bent, Alan Hutton and Shay Given, who already have one foot out the door, Lambert must ponder the future prospects of his young players as well. Villa's squad could be improved in many areas, and some current players will have to depart the club imminently.
Here are six players who should leave Villa Park this summer.
Having failed to score in 18 matches for Villa, forward Jordan Bowery has little chance to prolong his stay at Villa Park. Recently loaned to Doncaster Rovers, Bowery has never seemed to fit into Lambert's plans.
Last season, Bowery was given a handful of opportunities to start and turned in energetic but largely unimpressive displays. The Englishman has not started a game this year, and Lambert has even preferred on-loan Grant Holt and youngster Callum Robinson as bench options over Bowery.
In defence of the young striker, Bowery has mostly been asked to play out of position and has not had an opportunity to feature as a central striker. Nonetheless, Bowery does not currently possess the quality to star for Villa and should move on to gain experience.
Chris Herd came to the Villa academy in 2005 and has had numerous opportunities to break into the Aston Villa first team. Personal issues and injuries have helped keep Herd from performing consistently, and it is time for the Australian to be transferred.
On the pitch, Herd has been inconsistent. Featuring everywhere from defensive midfield to central defence, Herd has seen his role reduced in the team for the third season running.
An aggressive player who loves a last-ditch tackle, Herd's versatility is not sufficient to compensate for his shortcomings on and off the pitch. Currently unavailable for selection, it would be surprising if Herd was still a Villa player next season.
The lone signing of Villa's winter transfer window last season, Yacouba Sylla was the only new arrival at a time when Villa desperately needed reinforcement. Arriving under these difficult circumstances, the French midfielder has not performed well for Villa and may be deemed surplus to requirements.
Sylla has shown himself to be combative and spirited, but his lack of quality on the ball and the poor timing of his challenges is worrisome. As a defensive midfielder, Sylla lacks the discipline to protect the back four, while his poor passing hampers Villa's attacking.
Villa are set to shake up their midfield setup this summer—the team desperately needs a playmaking midfielder—and Sylla is the most likely candidate to be axed to make way for new blood.
In contrast to his teammates on this list, Aleksandar Tonev hasn't even had a full season to prove himself at Villa Park. It is a testament to his shocking performances that such little time is enough to justify jettisoning the Bulgarian so quickly.
Personally recommended by club hero Stiliyan Petrov, Tonev seemed a terrific signing. Villa have needed a creative, technically skilled player who can play out wide or behind the striker, and Tonev was billed as the man for the job.
Tonev has failed in this role and has been consistently poor every time he has played for Villa. Calamitous in possession, Tonev frequently gives the ball away and shoots at the first opportunity rather than considering his options.
Villa can do far better than the erratic Tonev in the summer transfer window, and the Bulgarian should be sold accordingly.
For most of Lambert's spell as Villa manager, the Scotsman has alternated between preferring Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker in central defence. Lambert should finalize this decision, while making way for the returning Jores Okore, by selling Baker this summer.
Baker was a rugby player in his youth, and his background is apparent when he plays. The central defender is bullishly strong and brave, but he is unrefined, makes dangerous challenges and has very poor positional awareness.
He is inferior to Clark in most aspects of defence and does not seem to be fully trusted by his partner at the back, Ron Vlaar. Baker's recent performances have been especially ghastly, and Lambert should seek a replacement this summer.
A favourite of Lambert, Andreas Weimann has been a regular starter for the past two seasons and has had plenty of memorable moments in a Villa shirt. Nonetheless, the Austrian has been very poor this season, and it would be in the club's best interest to sell the young forward.
Renowned for his work rate, Weimann's willingness to put in a spirited shift has always been his most endearing quality. This season, however, Weimann has appeared increasingly lethargic, and his technical skills have not improved.
Weimann is not a skilled passer, does not possess relatively strong finishing skills and does not control the ball well. His contributions to the team have become entirely replaceable; Weimann has scored just three goals so far this year.
Lambert must find a more technically skilled, creative player than Weimann this summer. Rather than sit Weimann on the bench, Villa would be well advised to sell the forward this summer while his stock will be at its highest.