Aston Villa will be expected to strengthen the squad again this summer, but there could also be a number of exits too.
The club’s ownership have had to spend big since our return to the Premier League. Initially simply to reconstruct a squad that had lost countless players due to expiring contracts and end of loan spells, but then to become more competitive to stay in the top flight.
Dean Smith has led us to promotion, safety from relegation and now possibly a top-half finish over the last three years, and so as far as objectives are concerned, he’s met every single one to this point.
However, with that progress comes growing expectation, and we’ve seen that from some quarters of the Villa faithful, as they have rightly been frustrated and disappointed with our form since January, which in turn has seen us lost our way in the battle for Europe.
A return to form in the last two games has given us hope of a strong finish to the campaign, but there is still plenty of work to be done this summer to help us kick on to the next level.
With that though comes tough decisions, with a string of players likely to be heading for the exit door ahead of next season too.
The 31-year-old has only made eight appearances for us despite joining the club in 2019, while he’s currently on loan at Hajduk Split.
With Emiliano Martinez firmly established as our No.1 goalkeeper, and with Tom Heaton and Jed Steer currently offering more than enough depth, Kalinic is surely surplus to requirements.
His contract with Villa runs until 2023 and so we’ll have to find a suitable landing spot for him to get him off the books this summer.
The Belgian has yet to make a single appearance for the first-team this year, with injuries and competition pushing him down the pecking order having previously been a regular starter.
With Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa establishing themselves as the pairing of choice for Smith this season, combined with Kortney Hause being first in line to come in, Engels is surely going to consider his options this summer to get more playing time.
That would arguably leave us short in that department then which could result in a need to replace him, so it will have to be weighed up by all concerned if a split is the right move.
The 33-year-old has been a great servant to the club since joining us in 2017, as he’s gone on to make 127 appearances for us.
However, with his current contract set to expire this summer, it could be time to bid farewell to him and look to bring in a different option to provide depth in that role.
Elmohamady can still play at a decent level, as seen in the recent draw with West Brom. That said, if we have ambitions of competing at the top level, he might be seen as a vulnerability when involved that will only get exposed the longer he stays.
Similarly to Elmo, the Welshman has had limited playing time this season and will see his contract at Villa end next month.
Another 2017 signing, Taylor has made 103 appearances for us, but with Matt Targett now flourishing into a fine left-back, we’ll need a solid option in that department to keep him on his toes with a long-term plan in mind.
A real fans’ favourite, it would be a huge shame to see Hourihane leave on a permanent basis as he currently enjoys a successful loan spell at Swansea City.
The 30-year-old has 29 goals and 23 assists in 150 games for Villa, but his lack of football in more recent times led to him looking for a bigger role elsewhere.
He should be commended for that as he clearly just wants to play, and while it would be disappointing to see him leave, Villa shouldn’t stand in his way if he has other options and isn’t part of Smith’s plans moving forward, especially with just one year left on his contract.
The signing of the Tanzania international will perhaps always be a rather baffling one as he looks set to join Fenerbahce on a permanent basis this summer.
He managed just two goals in 16 games for Villa before his loan move, one of which came in the League Cup final last year.
With Ollie Watkins, Wesley, Keinan Davis and possible summer arrivals now being preferred by Smith, an exit would be the best solution for all parties.