8 Potential Transfer Targets for Aston Villa on Display at the World Cup
World Cup fever has taken over, and you would be hard pressed to find a Premier League fan who isn't glued to this year's tournament. From underdog victories to unexpected comebacks, the 2014 World Cup has had it all.
Ron Vlaar, Philippe Senderos and Brad Guzan are all Aston Villa players who are currently representing their countries in Brazil, but the Birmingham club should not limit their attention to the performances of these three men.
The World Cup always produces breakthrough displays and unearths new emerging talents. While Villa cannot realistically target the biggest names playing in Brazil, there are a number of impressive players in the tournament who would be great additions to Villa's squad.
This article will consider each group of four teams competing in the World Cup and isolate one player from each group for Villa to target who would successfully fill one of Villa's many needs this transfer window.
Group A: Mexico's Miguel Layun
Villa fans may be sick of hearing it, but Paul Lambert's team is once again in need of a new left-back. Ryan Bertrand had a successful stint on loan from Chelsea, but as other teams express interest in the Englishman, Villa must consider other options.
Enter Mexico's Miguel Layun, whose rampaging performance against Cameroon was hugely instrumental in earning his nation a win in their opening match. Operating as a left wing-back, Layun was a constant nuisance to the Cameroonians and created several golden chances for his teammates.
Layun's attacking talents are impressive, and if the Mexican defender could adapt to a more conservative and balanced role in Villa's defence then the 25-year-old could prove to be an inspired signing for Villa.
Group B: Chile's Jean Beausejour
Similar to Layun, Chilean Jean Beausejour is an attack-minded left-back who has enjoyed a fine start to this summer's tournament. Beausejour—who played for Birmingham City and is no stranger to the West Midlands—came on as a substitute for Chile and scored a late goal in the 3-1 win against Australia.
Villa have a need for both a left-back and a winger; Beausejour can play either role and has the ability to change matches with committed displays, lung-busting runs and pinpoint passing.
Unfortunately, age is working against Beausejour. At 30 years old he may not fit the bill as a long-term solution for Villa. Nonetheless, the Chilean defender is versatile, has Premier League experience and could likely be signed fairly cheaply from Wigan Athletic.
Group C: Japan's Hiroshi Kiyotake
Last summer, Villa seemed on the verge of signing Hiroshi Kiyotake from FC Nurnberg, before the player's hesitance to move and a lack of agreement over the agreed upon transfer fee prevented the transaction from occurring.
Now, a year later, Villa's lack of creativity in attack has never been more apparent, and the club should redouble their attempts to secure the services of the Japanese playmaker. Although he has yet to play in Brazil, Kiyotake's passing ability, vision and skill on the ball would be greatly welcomed in Villa's midfield.
Joe Cole's acquisition has provided Villa with some genuinely creative talent, but the injury-prone veteran is not the player he used to be. Villa's quest for a No. 10 must not stop with Cole, and Kiyotake fits the bill.
Group D: Uruguay's Gaston Ramirez
It almost seems unthinkable that Gaston Ramirez was seen as a game-changing acquisition for Southampton just two years ago. The Saints and many of their individual players have flourished since then, but Ramirez has gone from a record-breaking signing to become largely an afterthought.
Furthermore, things have been similarly uncertain for Ramirez on the international front. Despite the absence of Luis Suarez to injury, Ramirez did not appear in Uruguay's shocking loss to Costa Rica.
The Uruguayan is still just 23 years old, however, and he has the talent to redeem himself. With Southampton's squad in complete turmoil, the time may be perfect for Villa to swoop and take a chance on the enigmatic Ramirez to address their dire needing for a dynamic attacking-midfielder.
Group E: Honduras' Emilio Izaguirre
Honduras arguably provided the most unimpressive display of this World Cup so far in their 3-0 loss to France, but Emilio Izaguirre's hard-working performance showed why the Celtic left-back is well-regarded in Glasgow.
Izaguirre is equally capable in attack or defence, possessing a delicate balance that Joe Bennett and Antonio Luna have failed to demonstrate. He can contribute well to attacks with tidy passing, while remaining well-positioned and disciplined to defend his goal.
Celtic recently signed Izaguirre to a contract extension that may make it challenging for Villa to pry the Honduran from Parkhead, but Villa's desperate need for a trustworthy left-back shows how valuable Izaguirre could be in a claret and blue shirt.
Group F: Nigeria's Victor Moses
Fresh off an unsuccessful loan spell at Liverpool, Chelsea's Victor Moses seems destined to leave Stamford Bridge this summer. Moses has struggled to fit in at the club level over the past couple of seasons, but the 23-year-old Nigerian remains a key player for his national team, and he could be a useful signing for Villa.
A tricky winger, Moses is a skilled dribbler and pacey player who fearlessly rampages down the flank. The departure of Marc Albrighton has left Villa without a threatening presence along the touchline, and Moses is more than capable of terrorising opposing full-backs.
Although his end product and decision-making must improve, Moses is young enough that he can be expected to improve and mature. If Moses can address his shortcomings then he could be the threat from the wing that Villa have missed since Ashley Young and Stewart Downing left the club.
Group G: USA's Aron Johannsson
American Aron Johannsson has experienced a sudden rise over the past season, moving from the Danish Superliga to become one of the Eredivisie's top scorers at AZ Alkmaar and earning himself a spot on the USA's World Cup roster for Brazil.
Young, energetic and constantly improving, Johannsson can play as either a centre-forward or as a winger. In many ways he is a more technically polished version of Andreas Weimann, who disappointed with consistently ineffective performances last season.
Johannsson was thrown into the fire in the USA's victory against Ghana, and he had some bright moments in his World Cup debut. With his well-rounded skill set, Johannsson has the ability to succeed in the Premier League as a versatile, talented addition to Villa's squad.
Group H: South Korea's Ki Sung-Yueng
Ki Sung-Yueng had a successful debut campaign in the Premier League with Swansea City in 2012-13; this made it all the more surprising when the Korean international was seen as non-essential by the Welsh club and subsequently loaned to Sunderland last season.
The well-rounded midfielder impressed for the Black Cats, helping Sunderland to safety and greatly strengthening their anemic midfield. Villa should take advantage of Swansea's seeming reluctance to play Ki by attempting to bring him to Villa Park.
Ashley Westwood is a calm passer and Fabian Delph is an energetic and mobile player, but Villa's midfield lacks a true technician and physical presence. Ki would offer these two attributes, and he would be a useful option in the middle of the park.