5 Realistic Targets Aston Villa Should Have Gone for This Summer Transfer Window
Aston Villa have been far from inactive during the summer transfer window, having signed seven players to provide much needed strength and depth to a squad that has just managed to stave off relegation three years in a row.
However, despite Villa's unbeaten and rather positive start to the season with two games played, four points earned and not a single goal conceded, the quality of Paul Lambert's new additions is yet to be fully understood. In fact, perhaps the most exciting arrival at Villa Park this summer is that of Carlos Sanchez from Spanish side, Elche, who has had a limited impact having played only 30 minutes in claret and blue.
Without a doubt the most important coup for Villa comes not among the playing staff but in the shape of Roy Keane as assistant manager, enabling Lambert to focus on tactics while Keane provides highly disciplined man-management. This will prove vital to a team that is full of young players as well as welcoming back expensive and formerly out-of-favour senior talents such as Darren Bent, Charles N'Zogbia and Alan Hutton.
The Villans are in reasonably good shape to take on the upcoming campaign, particularly given the potentially turbulent news at the start of the summer that owner Randy Lerner is looking to sell the club. With the announcement that Lambert would have only £10 million to spend on transfers and wages, this summer was always going to be a challenge.
So the question arises: Who else could Aston Villa have targeted? Here's a look at five players that Villa should have gone for during the summer transfer window.
Aston Villa's central midfield of Ashley Westwood and Fabian Delph shows an abundance of potential, which is exactly what Jack Rodwell has shown since bursting onto the Premier League scene at Everton in 2008.
This summer's move to Sunderland is an important one for Rodwell, as he is looking to put his career back on track and come good on that potential following an injury-disturbed two-year stint at Manchester City. With three England caps under his belt, Rodwell still has a long way to go, but his power and athleticism shape him as a real talent capable of protecting his defence and launching attacks with excellent distribution in equal measures.
The midfielder is exactly the sort of player that Villa should be doing their best to attract with their huge, loyal fanbase and a first team that is growing in confidence and experience. Rodwell has the range of midfield attributes and his £10 million price tag—considerable though it may be—is the sort of money Villa will need to spend on individuals of this calibre if they are to re-establish themselves near the top half of the Premier League.
Despite their financial constraints, perhaps quality over quantity should have been the order of the day for Paul Lambert this summer.
Aston Villa fans would have been delighted to see their captain, Ron Vlaar, putting in some magnificent performances for the Netherlands at the World Cup—while hoping that he would carry such sublime form into the new season at Villa Park.
Nevertheless, Vlaar has needed some support alongside him for a long time now and the signing of the experienced Swiss defender Philippe Senderos ought to adequately bridge the gap for the time being. That said, another option for Paul Lambert with greater talent and experience in that position was Joleon Lescott, whose move this summer to West Bromwich Albion represents another missed opportunity for the Villans.
Lescott boasts a quite illustrious career, having won the Premier League twice with Manchester City. The addition of such experience alongside the coveted Vlaar would have been most welcome, particularly after last season's concession of 61 goals (or 1.61 goals per game), via sportsmole.co.uk.
With Lescott having grown up supporting Aston Villa and having moved to West Brom this summer on a free, it would appear that Lambert missed a trick with the England international.
After collecting a World Cup runners-up medal in Brazil, Leroy Fer was rather sought-after among Premier League teams who had admired his strong performances for Norwich last season. Queens Park Rangers won the race to capture his signature for a fee of £8 million.
Similar in many ways to Jack Rodwell, Fer offers a significant physical presence in the centre of midfield and his energetic, box-to-box style makes him a coup for most Premier League outfits.
What's more, as is the case with Rodwell, Lambert would have been forced to spend most of Villa's budget to secure Fer's services but in order to truly boost the club forwards, such expenditure seems entirely necessary in today's market.
As well as having a leaky defence, Villa's goalscoring record last season was also quite disappointing and perhaps what is really missing is a central midfielder capable of providing the team's strikers with opportunities to score. Fer is the sort of attack-minded, athletic player Villa need to have on their radar in future.
After breaking into the West Brom starting line-up last term, Saido Berahino has come on leaps and bounds and is now a highly-rated winger capable of beating anyone with his pace and trickery. Indeed, the England under-21 player has got goals in his game, too, having opened the new Premier League campaign by notching two in the first game.
As mentioned in the previous slide, Aston Villa find themselves lacking in the goals department and particularly in the provision of such goalscoring chances. Berahino would constitute the perfect competition for the likes of Andreas Weimann, Charles N'Zogbia and Gabriel Agbonlahor, such is his impressive pace, dribbling and capacity to deliver into the danger area.
His availability this summer is now unlikely with just a few days of the transfer window remaining, but there is no reason why Berahino shouldn't be on Villa's shortlist.
Scott Sinclair's stock has fallen drastically since he became a Manchester City player in 2012, having played just 11 games since his arrival at the Etihad. Now he must be looking for an escape route and a new environment in which to revitalise his career. Villa Park could be just the place.
As with Berahino, Sinclair would offer Villa a new attacking outlet on either the left or the right wing, such is his versatility in that regard. Sinclair is quick, skillful and his set-piece deliveries are also an attractive asset, particularly for a side that will look to Christian Benteke to provide most of the goals.
Having been out of favour for so long at City, any asking price they put on the 25-year-old's shoulders ought to be quite affordable for the Villans. Given his desperation to seek out a fresh start, Lambert might be able to snap him up before the transfer deadline passes.