Aston Villa’s transfers this summer have been the best they’ve been in years, with players that are hungry and desperate to impress joining and providing much needed competition in some areas.
Words by Regan Foy (@FindFoy)
During the summer Aston Villa fans thought that they’d have a torrid time, losing key performers like Jack Grealish, James Chester and Jonathan Kodjia, before the new majority shareholders, Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris took the reigns from Dr. Tony Xia.
Since then, an abundance of talent has joined the club, including midfield powerhouse John McGinn, tricky winger Anwar El Ghazi and second-time-around Axel Tuanzebe.
With last season, the memo for transfer business was ‘experience and steel’, and this saw the likes of veteran centre-back John Terry join the club alongside winger Robert Snodgrass on loan. Whilst these were exciting signings at the time, it showed the short-termism in Aston Villa’s outlook – especially as Robert Snodgrass, ‘keeper Sam Johnstone and prolific goal scorer Lewis Grabban all left the club when Aston Villa fell at the final hurdle in the Play-Off Final against Fulham.
This time around, the transfers seem a little different.
Not one signing seems too short term, and each of the players has a number of years where they could be involved with the Aston Villa squad. But it’s not just the more long term outlook that’s been better for Aston Villa’s transfer dealings this summer, with all of the signings hungry and eager to impress.
With Orjan Nyland, the Norwegian goalkeeper has his best years ahead of him. At 27-years-old, the ‘keeper could be between the sticks for a number of seasons at Villa Park and should be until he’s at least thirty as he signed a three-year-deal with the club.
Nyland has spent the vast majority of his career in Scandinavia and Germany, and with Hertha BSC’s Rune Jarstein competing for their national team’s number one jersey, Orjan will be desperate to impress on a big stage at Aston Villa so that his international career doesn’t falter.
In regards to Axel Tuanzebe, the defender has much more to prove. At only 20 years of age, the defender joined Aston Villa in January of last season but found his game time limited after injuries held him back.
Not only does Tuanzebe in this case have something to prove to the Aston Villa faithful, that he was worth bringing back again after his torrid time last season – but that he’s good enough for the Manchester United squad. The England youth international is the first first-year scholar to captain the Manchester United under-18 side since Gary Neville, so he already has big boots to fill. Tuanzebe impressed in pre-season for the red devils, and is highly rated at Old Trafford, so he’ll be desperate to get closer to the first team there.
Andre Moreira’s career has never really kicked off, spending much of his time since joining Atletico Madrid in 2014 on loan in Portugal. The Madrid club seem to rate him highly though, with one of his loans cancelled so he could provide cover when their ‘keepers were having fitness troubles.
Moreira’s deal is great because it offers a second choice in regards to Nyland. Should Nyland be injured, or his form drops, Moreira can step in and prove himself in front of the Aston Villa fans. Not only is he here for a season-long loan, but Aston Villa have an option-to-buy on the 22-year-old which would see him stay in B6 if he impresses, rather than leaving like Sam Johnstone did.
John McGinn has already endeared himself to the crowds at Villa Park, and at 23-years-old has a bright career ahead of him. Spending his earlier career in the Scottish leagues, McGinn will be desperate to show that he can perform in a tougher league across the border.
Signing a four-year-deal, McGinn will surely kick on from his bright start and become a main stay in the Aston Villa midfield. Not only is this a great transfer that did not break the bank, but it provides the likes of Conor Hourihane, who had an incredible season last year with much needed competition.
Since McGinn’s signing, Hourihane has looked bright whenever he’s been subbed onto the pitch, and the healthy competition between the pair should see both performing to the best of their ability.
And the two most recent signings, Anwar El Ghazi and Yannick Bolasie are both hungry to succeed.
El Ghazi’s career scorched into life at Ajax, but when the winger got a big money move to Lille, his career has stagnated a little. In his debut performance in yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Reading, El Ghazi looked fiendishly tricky and even notched up an assist as Ahmed Elmohamady headed home. El Ghazi will be looking to show that he can perform and wasn’t just adept in the Dutch Eredivisie.
Not only is he young, but Aston Villa have an option to buy him at the end of the season, much like the Moreira deal – meaning we could have a gem on our hands for years to come.
In Bolasie’s case, the Congolese international became the clubs oldest signing of the window on Saturday – but the 29-year-old’s age might not be an issue.
After suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in December 2016, Bolasie has struggled for game time at Everton and as a result of his has been unhappy with himself – as he mentioned in his first interview with the Villa media team.
Bolasie will be desperate to get his career on track with Aston Villa, and performances could show us that he means business. With Andre Green and Albert Adomah also options on the wing, the competition could spark the two current Aston Villa boys to life and return them to the form that they were showing last season.