Trézéguet seems set for a permanent move to Turkey, while Anwar El Ghazi will likely move too. The club is progressing quickly in stature, but perhaps not as quickly on the pitch.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
If you were looking for a sure-fire sign of Aston Villa’s growing reputation, you only have to look at three of the four permanent signings made before the opening of this summer’s transfer window. Boubacar Kamara, Diego Carlos and Philippe Coutinho are not signings you would have ever attributed to the claret and blue side of Birmingham, and yet here fans are revelling in their arrival.
Of course, Aston Villa already had a great reputation – former European Cup winners, one of the most decorated clubs in the country, but years languishing around the bottom of the Premier League and then a three-year stint in the wilderness of the Sky Bet Championship can have a drastically negative effect on how a certain calibre of player can view the club.
Many sides are promoted to the Premier League and remain, like Brighton for example, yet struggle to bring in “big” names to whet the appetite of their faithful supporters, making minute improvements to their playing squad from year-to-year and often selling some of their star players to the vultures of the big six or a similar side from a foreign league.
Aston Villa did make minute improvements in their second season in terms of the playing staff – in fact, you may argue they made massive improvements. The arrival of players like Emiliano Martinez, for example, catapulted performances to a new level. They also, you could argue, fell foul of the aforementioned vultures, when Manchester City came calling for £100,000,000 star Jack Grealish.
There was a major shift in reputation for Aston Villa during their latest season, their third since returning to the Premier League. This didn’t come from the players they signed that summer, although the injury-prone Leon Bailey was one that raised eyebrows in a positive manner outside of the club.
This shift in reputation came with the arrival of one of the greatest midfielders of the Premier League era as manager when things were going awry. Steven Gerrard. There’s little we know about his own management style, tactical philosophy or man-management, but he clearly relies heavily on talented backroom staff to ensure the cogs of the Aston Villa machine run “smoothly” – he’s there as the main man, part of the package for players who grew up watching him play. To be managed by a great, and join an ambitious club? That’s the icing on the cake.
With Michael Beale often receiving praise, and now the arrival of highly thought of Neil Critchley from Blackpool as Assistant Head Coach, it’s clear that Gerrard is just the frontman of a larger operation.
Players that were previously signed under the old regime have fallen foul of this increased reputation and the improvement of the squad. Anwar El Ghazi, a player who was pivotal to Aston Villa’s promotion back to the Premier League and the club’s second highest scorer in their second season, is one example of this. He became important again after losing his way a little, before Gerrard’s arrival, but fell out of favour and was shipped off to Everton for more game time. That went well. He’ll likely leave this summer if a suitor can be found.
Trézéguet is another – although his story is much different. The Egyptian was so important in Aston Villa remaining in the Premier League and reaching the Carabao Cup final, and is thought of fondly by fans. However, a lengthy injury set him back to being a bit-part player and he found himself loaned out to the Turkish Super Lig., a home-from-home of sorts for the winger who was signed from Kasimpasa.
These are two players who could cut it in the Premier League. Perhaps not where Aston Villa want to be, but for a newly promoted side or a side struggling towards the relegation zone, they would certainly be worth a put. Trézéguet is rumoured to be heading to Trabzonspor, while there isn’t much news about El Ghazi currently – but he has had suitors in Italy in the past.
In the space of just two years Aston Villa has left these players behind. Consistent squad improvement (or even overhaul), the arrival of Gerrard and now a player of Philippe Coutinho’s level have set Aston Villa up as one of the biggest fish currently in the bottom half of the Premier League.
The club is growing in size, stature and reputation and the quality of player arriving is something rival fans are often looking at in awe. Soon, fan favourites and players we’ve seen a lot of could find themselves becoming victims of the thirst for success and see a similar fate to El Ghazi and Trézéguet.
It’s full steam ahead for the Villans, but the breaks will have to gently start working soon. There’s only so much you can overhaul a squad.