With the January transfer window now closed for business, Aston Villa can look back on a positive month of deals that improved Steven Gerrard’s squad.
The Villa boss has had a couple of months following his arrival in November to assess the group that he inherited, to take a closer look at the players under his watch and decide who would be central to his plans moving forward and which areas we needed improvement.
January. 🤝 pic.twitter.com/bhUy0L13K0
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) January 31, 2022
Having had his first opportunity to stamp his mark on the squad and bring in reinforcements this month, Villa certainly appear to be in a stronger position now than they were at the turn of the year.
Time will now tell though whether or not we can continue to pick up results, enjoy a positive finish to the Premier League campaign and in turn put ourselves in a stronger position this summer to continue to bring in our top targets.
Villa signings – Coutinho, Digne arrive as marquee additions
Philippe Coutinho was undoubtedly the stand-out signing this month, albeit on an initial loan deal from Barcelona until the end of the season, but with an option to make it a permanent switch in the summer.
The 29-year-old Brazilian brings quality, pedigree, a winning mentality and profile to the club to help take us to the next level, and after scoring on his debut against Man Utd, it’s hoped that is just the start of what’s to come from him.
Similarly, Lucas Digne adds much of the same, he provides an upgrade at left-back and a player more suited to Gerrard’s style and demands in that role as we have seen in his first two appearances for Villa.. That pair in particular will be key in pushing us on in the coming months.
Robin Olsen was a smart addition in that he brings a reliability about him as back-up to Emiliano Martinez having operated at a high level both for club and country, while Calum Chambers adds solidity and versatility to our defence as he could prove to be an important signing to give us depth and competition in several positions.
Villa outgoings – Squad cutting, smart loan exits
Matt Targett, Anwar El Ghazi, Wesley, Keinan Davis, Jed Steer, Cameron Archer, Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Kaine Kesler Hayden have all left the club on a temporary basis in what became a squad cutting exercise to reduce numbers and get important experiences for some of our younger players.
Villa were ultimately over-stacked in some areas with certain individuals unlikely to get much playing time. In turn, to send them out on loan will work for all concerned, until more long-term decisions can be made in the summer.
Particularly though for some of our youngsters, with Davis scoring twice for Nottingham Forest already, Archer scoring on his debut for Preston, and with Kesler now having a fresh chance to shine at MK Dons, we’ve hopefully picked better landing spots for our top talents to shine and prove a point to Gerrard before returning in the summer.
Contract extensions – Martinez, Hause deals a huge boost
It won’t necessarily get as much attention as new signings, but securing the long-term futures of Emiliano Martinez and Kortney Hause was a key part of Villa’s strategy in January.
Hause was an important deal to wrap up given his importance to the squad as competition and back-up in central defence, particularly after the departure of Axel Tuanzebe. As a natural left-footed defender, Hause is a top option to fill in for Tyrone Mings, but slotting in for Ezri Konsa comes with its own challenges and so that’s what made the Chambers signing all the more crucial.
As for Martinez, the Argentina No.1 has emerged not only as a fundamental part of the Villa XI, but he has established himself as one of the top goalkeepers in the world with his performance for club and country over the last two years.
It was a huge boost to see him commit his long-term future to Villa having signed until 2027, and it is also an important step to attracting other top players to the club if they see that pillars of the side like him are convinced and have fully bought in to the plan and strategy set out by Villa to be competitive over the next few years and beyond.