With the transfer deadline fast approaching, it remains to be seen how much more business Aston Villa choose to do in order to strengthen Dean Smith’s squad.
Villa lost captain Jack Grealish this summer in what was a major blow, but the signings made by the club have certainly softened the impact with Emiliano Buendia, Ashley Young, Leon Bailey, Danny Ings and Axel Tuanzebe all arriving.
With just a few more days to go before the window closes, have Villa done enough? While that’s still up for debate, there are certainly a number of our current players who could be on their way out before Tuesday.
Smith has a number of options at disposal to play right-back, with Matty Cash having done enough to be regarded as our first-choice pick when fit.
Ezri Konsa and Axel Tuanzebe can shift across if necessary, while Ashley Young’s versatility allows him to play on that side in a defensive role too as well as left-back.
In turn, Guilbert could struggle to force his way into the side, but it’s hoped that his performance and goal against Barrow in midweek might have convinced Villa otherwise and to give him another chance this season. Villa sent youngster Kaine Kesler out on loan this season, and so perhaps keeping Guilbert until he’s ready to compete for a spot next year might be sensible planning.
Hourihane has conducted himself with real class this summer and to start the season. From welcoming Emiliano Buendia on his first day at the club to interacting with the fans during pre-season games to playing a key role in our win over Barrow on Tuesday night.
His post on Instagram summed him up perfectly as he relished the opportunity to captain the side in midweek and that personality and professionalism is no doubt why he’s valued so highly at Villa.
That said, just as we saw last season with his loan move to Swansea City, Villa and Smith also don’t want to stand in his way and deprive him of regular first-team football. If the right offer comes in, it will be sad but the right thing to do by Hourihane is to let him move on.
This one comes with a major caveat in that it will only materialise if Villa sign a defensive midfielder first.
That is an area of the squad which is arguably missing something in terms of solidity and steeliness to control games in the middle of the pitch, and the likes of Douglas Luiz, Morgan Sanson and John McGinn don’t really have that type of game.
Nakamba is excellent when we want defensive protection in front of the backline, but he is limited in terms of what he does on the ball and so if we can upgrade in that position, it could be argued that he moves on due to too much competition for places and subsequently a lack of playing time.
Anwar El Ghazi
Albeit it’s Football Insider, but it has been reported that Villa are potentially open to selling El Ghazi before the deadline, with Roma linked with a swoop for the £15m-rated winger.
Once Leon Bailey, Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore are all fit and firing to support Danny Ings, Buendia, Jacob Ramsey, Carney Chukwuemeka, Jaden Philogene-Bidace and others, El Ghazi is going to struggle to get into the side.
He’s impressed thus far with his penalty against Newcastle Utd followed by two goals and two assists against Barrow, but time will tell if it’s still the right fit for both parties.
Similarly to those named above, Wesley is ultimately slipping down the pecking order at Villa, with Ings and Watkins now ahead of him while youngsters like Cameron Archer are getting chances and taking them.
His absence from the squad that faced Barrow arguably said a lot as speculation suggests that he could be returning to Club Brugge on loan, as noted by The Athletic, and it has to be said that it could be the best thing for him.
It would be a sensible decision from Villa as it gives him a chance to get back to his best after his horrific injury, find his form and regain his confidence with regular playing time. Hopefully that enables him to come back next season with a point to prove and ready to fire.