Aston Villa have officially confirmed that Conor Hourihane has left to join Sheffield Utd in a season-long loan deal.
The 30-year-old has been with the club since 2017 and was a key figure in our push for promotion back to the Premier League, and subsequently our bid to stay up in our first season back in the top flight.
However, opportunities have gradually become harder to come by for the Republic of Ireland international, and although he captained the side that beat Barrow in the Carabao Cup last week, he didn’t feature at all in our first three league games.
In turn, as per the club’s official site, it has been confirmed that he has joined Sheffield Utd on loan for the season, and he’ll hope to play an important role in their bid to return to the Premier League next year.
Hourihane’s contract with Villa expires in June 2022, and so it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll now play out this season and become a free agent next summer, or if the two parties agree on an extension and from that point another exit next year, be it a loan or permanent one.
For now though, we wish Hourihane well in his new challenge, as ultimately it’s commendable that he wants to play regular football and that is something that Dean Smith simply can’t promise him at Villa currently.
Competition for places in midfield is fierce with Douglas Luiz and John McGinn the preferred two-man deeper midfield pairing, and so there would certainly be a struggle for Hourihane to displace them and get into the XI on a regular basis.
Instead, he’ll use his experience and quality to make the difference for Sheffield Utd, while it remains to be seen if Smith and Villa decide to fill that void or if they believe they have enough in the squad already.