Aston Villa have been linked with a trio of forwards already this transfer window – so we’ve taken the chance to take a look at all three.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Buckle in, ladies and gentlemen – the transfer window is now a few days underway and a number of forwards have already been linked with Aston Villa.
It was likely to be the case regardless, but now with no plausible option to lead the line week-in, week-out, there are going to be swathes of links thrown at fans until a player is signed.
On only the second day of the window, three names were cast as potential targets for Dean Smith this January – including Trabzonspor’s Daniel Sturridge, Bordeaux’s Josh Maja and Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi.
As with any player, there are positives and negatives to their game – and it’s easy to judge a player solely on a name or solely on memories of a goal or particular performance. We’ll be taking a little look into the latest links to see what these forwards are all about.
The Birmingham born forward, who has represented England at every level – including the Olympics – spent four years in Aston Villa’s youth academy between 1996 and 2000, between the ages of seven and eleven.
Injuries have always been a major concern for the striker, who has previously appeared for Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, and Sturridge has only managed just over 227 appearances in a career spanning nearly a decade and a half. To put that into perspective, Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson, at 25-years-old, has already surpassed that with nearly 250.
If that hasn’t put you off already, the 30-year-old clearly has a stamina issue and is yet to play for a full 90 minutes for his current club Trabzonspor despite being at the club since September 2019. He averages under 60 minutes per game this season, which some may say is all he would need – but in a relegation fight Aston Villa will be looking for more from their forward.
Despite his lack of longevity, Sturridge has managed seven goals and three assists in 13 appearances in all competitions (Turkish Super Lig., UEFA Europa League, Turkey Cup).
Fans of Netflix will likely recognise Josh Maja as the young talent who broke through at Sunderland, tasked with keeping the club afloat despite their evident downfall as they were relegated to League One.
The once-capped Nigeria international is now 21-years-old and moved to Ligue 1 side Bordeaux last January – which makes the links with a move to the Premier League all the more confusing.
He’s tipped as one for the future, whilst Aston Villa need someone tipped for the present.
At Bordeaux this season, Maja has played 772 minutes of football in the Ligue 1 and Coupe de la Ligue, netting six goals and assisting in two. Three of his goals, however, came in a 6-0 win against Nimes Olympique. With 18 shots on target this season, a return of one goal every six shots isn’t something to scoff at – but when you take into account that 39% of his shots on target came across two of his 17 appearances, things change a little.
Looking at his statistics this season shows you that he’s offered a bit more from the bench than he has when he has started – registering three times as many shots on average when he’s come into a game, as well as making more key passes too.
He’s a raw talent but not what Aston Villa should be in the market for.
The one that has fans licking their lips, and for good reason.
Michy Batshuayi is experienced in the Premier League, has showcased his ability at both top clubs and mid-table clubs in the form of Chelsea and Crystal Palace, and has experienced a lions share of loans away from Stamford Bridge in the past.
He is perhaps the most complete striker of the three, and possibly the most underutilised by his current club. Since joining Chelsea following his break-out season with Marseille in 2015/16, the forward is yet to feature any more than 20 times in a singular season.
Loans to Crystal Palace (2018/19) and Borussia Dortmund (2017/18) paid off for the Belgian international, with the ‘Batsman’ scoring five in 11 at Selhurst Park and seven in 10 at Signal Iduna Park.
The 26-year-old has a strong scoring record for his national team too, scoring 16 in 29 appearances at Senior Level.
With the EURO’s coming up this year, Michy Batshuayi needs regular game time in order to stake a claim ahead of the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Divock Origi and Christian Benteke and could look to prove himself to Roberto Martinez with a loan move away.
Aston Villa have reportedly enquired about Batshuayi’s services, but it is said that the striker is willing to remain at Chelsea to attempt to win game time. This brings into question the forward’s mentality – is he happy to pick up a wage at Chelsea making appearances from the bench? Would he use Aston Villa as a stepping stone to try to re-ignite his career?
There are questions to be asked, but if one of them is who the best option for Aston Villa in their current state – the answer, as you probably already knew, is Batshuayi every time.