This summer is set to be an incredibly busy one for Aston Villa. After achieving promotion from the Championship, they’ll need a number of new players to help them survive in the Premier League.
The last time they were in the division they endured a dismal campaign, finishing rock bottom on just 17 points.
It was a season that saw them win just three games and sit bottom of the table for 28 game weeks in a row. They meanwhile picked up a solitary point from their final 13 matches of the term.
It was a horrendous season, but the Villans are now revitalised under Dean Smith and will surely have a better year than their fortunes provided in 2015/16.
They look far better equipped to deal with the demands of the top-flight now, but they will have to be careful with their recruitment.
There are still some big gaps to fill in this Villa team but if Smith doesn’t fix them over the transfer window, they could be staring at instant relegation.
Addressing the centre-backs
Villa’s defence in the early stages of the season was distinctly average. The fact Steve Bruce had to play Mile Jedinak there for a period of games summed things up.
But with James Chester and Tommy Elphick, there was a lack of solidity.
Going into the Premier League, they will need to find a sturdy defence from the very start. With John Terry on the coaching staff you’d imagine that will come more naturally than it did this term.
He worked wonders with the defence in the latter part of their promotion run, building on the tremendous signing of Tyrone Mings.
The Bournemouth loanee was exceptional, arguably changing the course of their season. However, he’s now departed. So too have Axel Tuanzebe and Kortney Hause.
Hause looks as though he may return as the centre-back has an option to buy in his loan deal but the future of Mings is less certain.
As a result, replacing those three loans will be imperative. Gary Cahill has been touted as making a possible move back to the Villans this summer and he’d go some way to adding more stability.
He’s now 33 but his experience of playing at the top level could prove vital. However, signing players who Smith can develop will also be of great benefit.
In 2015/16, Villa conceded 76 goals, the most of any side. That will need to improve.
Strengthening wide areas
Going forward, one of Villa’s main problems this term was in a wide area. They simply didn’t create or score enough goals. Anwar El Ghazi was a frustrating figure at times but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Villa brought him back over the summer. Like Hause, there is an option to buy the Dutchman.
His permanent arrival would be a key signing but it remains to be seen whether he can cut it in the Premier League. Given his inconsistency, he may struggle, but his tricky nature should be enough to trouble defenders.
The main issue they need to address is on the right, an area that is devoid of much quality. Albert Adomah didn’t hit the heights of the season before, finding the net on just four occasions. He meanwhile only picked up two assists.
As for Andre Green, he’s still a very raw talent. He’s exciting but his lack of end product has shone through too many times. He’s someone the club can look towards for the future but finding someone with more experience will also be important.
The club have lined up Joe Lolley as a possible option and he would be a clever addition judging by the 11 goals and 11 assists he picked up in 2018/19.
The need for goals
In their last season in the Premier League, the Villans scored just 27 goals in 38 matches. Simply finding someone capable of finding the net will be massive. If they fail to find that, it wouldn’t be a great surprise to see them relegated again.
Three years ago their front line consisted of Gabby Agbonlahor, Jordan Ayew, Libor Kozak and Rudy Gestede.
It’s a catalogue of forwards who simply weren’t good enough for the division at that time. As a result, this is an area they need to learn from.
This week the Villans were subject of reports claiming they were interested in both Neal Maupay and Dwight Gayle.
The latter simply hasn’t scored enough goals when he’s played in the Premier League before so their transfer business will have to be far smarter. Maupay would be a gamble, but at 22 there is room for growth.
If Smith can find a proven Premier League forward that will go a long way to ensuring survival next season.