Aston Villa have already been busy in the transfer window after signing Emiliano Buendia, but their work this summer is far from over.
Dean Smith’s side made progress in the Premier League last season, improving on our narrow escape from relegation the previous campaign to finish in 11th place in the standings.
After our impressive first half to the season though, there was a feeling of disappointment that we couldn’t build on that to compete further up the table, but nonetheless, it was a positive year with significant room for improvement.
In order to take that next step, we’ll need to continue to add quality reinforcements to improve the squad, and while that process has started with Buendia’s arrival, there are still outstanding issues that must be addressed in the coming months.
Villa have been linked with a string of midfield targets this summer, and so it appears as though Smith and the hierarchy are keen to add more in that department, and rightly so.
While John McGinn and Douglas Luiz have been key figures in the side and Marvelous Nakamba offers quality depth, it’s still not enough to compete at the top level and potentially across multiple fronts if we want to kick on and qualify for Europe.
A midfield enforcer capable of offering protection in the front of the defence coupled with an ability to drive forward and help with the transition from defence to attack would be an ideal signing this summer, but time will tell who is identified as the right man for the job.
With Tom Heaton, Neil Taylor and Ahmed Elmohamady all moving on this summer having seen their respective contracts expire, Villa have lost a lot of depth in defence and significant experience between the trio.
While returning loanees and the club’s youngsters fresh from their FA Youth Cup success could offer some solutions, there is a feeling that Villa will still consider their options in the transfer market if the right targets are available.
Finding a balance between experience and youth will be crucial, and so given the veterans we’ve lost, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if we look for proven players with a decent track record to fill the voids.
Sort out futures of string of fringe players
Bjorn Engels, Frederic Guilbert, Conor Hourihane and Wesley are just a few of our senior stars who have question marks hanging over their respective futures at Villa currently.
Engels was unable to force his way into Smith’s starting line-up last season, Guilbert will return from his loan spell in France to challenge Matty Cash, while Hourihane will arguably find the same problem of a lack of playing time on his return this summer to the one he encountered prior to his exit.
As for Wesley, the expectation is that Villa and Smith will assess him over pre-season as he continues his recovery from injury, and if he’s deemed to be in a condition to make a difference for us next season, the Brazilian striker will hopefully stay on to offer a different option up front to Ollie Watkins.
Keinan Davis will be in a similar position, with a loan move elsewhere perhaps the most sensible strategy for him at this stage of his career.