Aston Villa boss Unai Emery has offered insight into his thoughts on his current squad and is evidently confident in the options available.
Villa were quiet in the January transfer window, with Alex Moreno and Jhon Duran the only arrivals while seven in total left the club in a combination of loan deals, permanent exits and loan recalls.
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Naturally, there was an initial concern over whether or not we perhaps lacked quality in depth, but Emery has made it clear ever since he arrived that he only wants to sign players who significantly improve the squad.
Those targets were either unavailable or unattainable last month, and so we’ll wait to see what changes are made in this summer. However, Emery has never bemoaned a lack of incomings, and he insists that he has every confidence in the current group as he delivered his assessment.
“I have complete confidence in our squad and in our strikers,” he said, as quoted by The Express and Star. “Of course, Ollie Watkins is going to play 100 per cent as a striker and he will compete with Jhon Duran. But we also have players who can play with him – Bailey, as a second striker – or as a 10 we have Coutinho or Emiliano Buendia.
“Then we have utility players like McGinn and Ramsey who can play inside or outside. I want them to help us by adding goals. There are different ways to get goals, with a striker, with wingers, with midfielders – with centre-backs maybe or left and right-backs.
“I want everyone trying to defend and everyone trying to attack, trying to hit the targets for their position.
“I am perfectly happy with the squad because we are not playing in Europe, we are not playing in cups. We have options, we have two players for every position. I think that’s enough.
“They have shown me their skills level, now I want them to be competitive and demanding and they are doing it.”
Ultimately, the majority of those that left last month were players either deemed surplus to requirements or who had played limited roles so far this season, and so we haven’t really lost any significant players beyond Danny Ings.
Given the improvement that he has extracted out of the players at his disposal so far and how we’ve made progress as a collective despite some setbacks along the way, there is no reason to doubt Emery’s ability to get even more out of this group between now and the end of the season.
The summer will then provide him with a major opportunity to stamp his mark on the squad with players that perhaps fit his ideas and principles better, but for now he has versatility and flexibility with the individuals available, and it’s hoped that we have enough for a sustained push to break into the top half of the Premier League table.
Emery is evidently demanding of his players in both phases of the game, and so while the pressure is on Watkins to maintain his impressive form since the Spaniard took charge, there is undoubtedly a need for others to chip in and contribute too while being part of an organised and disciplined side that doesn’t concede many goals.