It's somehow nearly December, meaning always-present transfer speculation will soon kick into overdrive. Given the club's ongoing austerity drive it's tough to imagine Aston Villa will be doing a whole lot during the window, but A) Randy Lerner is a very rich man, he's shown a willingness to spend money if things look bad, December is terrifying and B) a boy can dream, right? There are some pretty obvious issues with this squad and there are only two periods of time per year during which they can be addressed. And this is a wish list, after all; I don't know about the letters you sent to Santa when you were a kid, but in my world the jolly man wasn't working under budgetary constraints.
So, after the jump are some lists I've put together about what I'd like to see Villa do in January. Despite the fact that one of the lists is dedicated to things I know damn well won't happen, I'm working under a constraint of plausibility. That's why there's no list that consists of 100 bullets, all of them followed by the words "Buy Hulk." Have you got any fantasies for the post-holiday shopping season? I know you do. Feel free to share them in the comments.
- Added depth at outside back. Enda Stevens will help, but he's not enough to give me a sense of real comfort. Eric Lichaj can cover both sides (and would probably be an upgrade on both sides) but he'll take a while to get back to game speed. If Warnock or Hutton goes out for an extended period, it could get scary. Or scarier than it already is.
- Stephen Ireland goes away, permanently this time. He's not playing, he makes a ton of money and he's got to have value to someone. Contracts like his are what makes it difficult for Villa to add players that could actually be beneficial. I still think he can be a useful player somewhere, but it won't happen at Villa.
- A new home for Brad Guzan. This one is selfish; it doesn't really help Villa (though he'd likely bring in a little bit of a transfer fee, which is nice) but as a USMNT fan it's tough watching his development slowed by sitting on the bench. Given is tremendous and isn't showing signs of slowing down; it's time for Little Brad to go somewhere else.
- Assuming the above goes through, we'll need a new backup keeper. Someone like David James (not actually David James, just someone competent, cheap and too old to be upset about a lack of playing time) would suffice.
Probably Won't Happen
- One of Richard Dunne/James Collins/Stephen Warnock going away. Dunne has been good this season, but Ciaran Clark is the future and he's not getting time. Collins has been bad, but likely has more value that Dunne just by virtue of his age. Warnock has been mediocre, has no real value and is the only left back on the team, but he annoys me. They all make a lot of money.
- Enda Stevens loaned back to Shamrock Rovers for the remainder of the season. What little I've seen of Stevens, I like. But he's not a Premier League player just yet, and he needs to get as much experience as possible. Loaning him to an English lower-level or Scottish club would be even better.
- Add another wide midfielder for depth. Preferably someone like Robert Pires in terms of stage of career/cost without the unfortunate shorts length and personality of Robert Pires. I like N'Zogbia and think he'll end up being a good addition, but behind him we have Marc Albrighton (who is, let's remember, no longer amongst the living) and uh. So this is an area I would like to see shored up.
Will Never Happen In A Million Years But I Wish It Would
- Recall Jean Makoun from Olympiakos. THIS WOULD SOLVE LIKE EIGHT DIFFERENT PROBLEMS.
- Sell Alan Hutton. Give him away if need be. Have Marc Albrighton play right back for all I care, just make him go away.
- Sell Darren Bent. This one will be controversial, I know. Bent was a large part of what saved Villa's season last year, and as far as pure poachers go there aren't many in the world that are better. But on this team, he's wasted. Gabby Agbonlahor is in the form of his life, Nathan Delfouneso is knocking on the door and Emile Heskey wouldn't actually be a complete disaster if he was actually playing striker rather than wide midfield. There are other areas in need of serious upgrade, and the sale of Bent could help fund them; as a regular choice for the England squad, he's probably more valuable now than he was when he was brought in, and there's no way he's happy with the service he's receiving from his teammates. Sell Bent and use the money elsewhere and there's a good chance you end up with a better team. (And note: unless all of the money from a sale of Bent is available for re-investment, I don't advocate doing so.)
- Buy Markus Henriksen. I saw a rumor farm make a connection between Villa and the 19-year-old Rosenborg midfielder, and I have never wished more urgently to be able to suppress my skepticism. He's young and raw and might not make an immediate impact, but he's going to be a very special player and soon the big clubs will be crawling all over him. Best to beat them to the punch.