Aston Villa board breathed fresh air of life by appointing Steven Gerrard as their manager mid-way through the season. However, Villa’s venture with Gerrard has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. The club has experienced many highs and lows under their new manager. Moreover, Gerrard made it clear that he wants to fight for European places, and Villa were about to go within a point of seventh position before Christmas.
However, they could not capitalize on the opportunity due to the postponement of their fixture with Burnley amidst a rise in Covid-19 cases. Fast-forward four-and-a-half months and Villa sit just eight points above 18th placed Everton. But their hopes of fighting for European places next season could suffer another blow as well. Aston Villa’s transfer plans could falter the chances of Gerrard taking them to European football. Moreover, Gerrard should take a lesson from the club’s recent spending to avoid any compromise with the next season.
The Midlands club staring at a summer exodus
Aston Villa have conducted some heavy business over the last few years in the transfer market. Moreover, with Gerrard eyeing a rebuild, Villa’s board should should brace themselves up for a number of exits. As many as 10, or even 12 first-team players could see the door in the summer. Meanwhile, a number of players could return as well from their loan spells. The Midlands club could inject another £30 million into their summer budget from the sales. Matt Targett, Keinan Davis, Anwar El Ghazi, Trezeguet, Frederic Guilbert, Jed Steer and Lovre Kalinic are all expected to leave the club after their loan moves end.
Steven Gerrard however seems to be unconcerned over the number of players Villa will lose. Gerrard has stressed upon giving more opportunities to Villa’s academy players. Jacob Ramsey has continued his development under Gerrard, and midfielders Tim Iroegbunam and Tommi O’Reilly have been promoted to the senior side as well. But the Villa need a solid bench if they are to battle for European places next season. And only quality signings in the summer can provide them with the same.
Aston Villa’s net spend should ring alarms for Gerrard
Talking about Aston Villa’s signings, the club clocks a net spend of whopping £424 million since 2012/13 season. Moreover, what’s more astonishing is that they rank 9th among European clubs for the net spending. But their results however have not matched their spending. The club has recruited 11 players on an average since 2015/16 when they were relegated to the Championship. The figure turned to 10 after gaining the promotion to Premier League in 2018/19.
Gerrard is again targeting big-money signings in the summer for bolstering Villa’s squad. Kalvin Phillips and Yves Bissouma are linked with moves worth in the range of £40-£50 million. However, Villa cannot afford to put a foot wrong with these potential signings. If they are to realistically fight for European places, or at least finish in the top-half best recruitment is the start. CEO Christian Purslow, sporting director Johan Lange and Steven Gerrard must sit together and carve out a near-perfect transfer strategy for Aston Villa’s next season, and ultimately future.
But Gerrard has to ensure that the development of Villa’s youngsters continues. Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Cameron Archer, Ben Chrisene, Kerr Smith, Joshua Feeney, Louie Barry, Kaine Kesler and Aaron Ramsey will all be involved in the pre-season. Gerrard needs to be spot on with the recruitment to amalgamate the resources for Aston Villa to finish in the top-half for the first time since 2011.
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