Well, we finally made it. The summer transfer window has officially closed, and Aston Villa have pulled off a number of deals. The really shocking bit, though, is the fact that most of the activity came early in the summer, leaving we fans to a relatively quiet deadline day. It was a nice change from the past few seasons in which the club have waited until the last minute to do most of their business. It also means that the core of the club have had an entire summer to train together.
Let's take a quick look at all of the moves that Aston Villa made this summer, with a few quick comments. Note that I've left out the players who left on a free move. If I've missed anything, let me know! Aaron will be in tomorrow with more comprehensive grades. In the meantime, be sure to check out our Transfer News and Rumour hub, where you can read all of the stories over the course of the summer. If you'd just like a list of what Villa went through, our transfer rumour tracker has that covered.
Welcome aboard: Players brought in over the summer
The first major signing of Aston Villa's summer, Tonev was brought in from Polish club Lech Poznan. The Bulgarian international looks to be a part of the formidable Aston Villa attack this year, though he hasn't seen the pitch too much in the first four matches.
Quite possibly the marquee new signing of the summer. Graham MacAree, who watched Okore's Norsjaelland against his Chelsea squad last year, described the Danish defender as "a defensive version of what Christian Benteke was last summer." In the two matches we've actually gotten to see him play this season, Okore has been dominant, with some good decisions making. He'll be a solid centre back for VIlla for a few years to come.
Bacuna, ostensibly a midfielder, has already shown versatility by slotting into the defense as well. He's a raw product who joined Villa from FC Groningen and may be a great signing simply for his ability to play in so many places. That said, he's definitely a role-player and it'd be silly to expect much more from him.
Helenius, at 6' 5", could be a part of the league's tallest strike force is Paul Lambert wanted. Throw him up front with Benteke and Kozak and you've got 19 feet of striker. The Danish international came to Villa via Danish club Aalborg BK. Like Tonev, he's only seen limited time on the pitch thus far, but will go a long ways towards provided depth for the first-team strikers.
He's already gotten the chance to prove himself, and did so quite well when he secured Aston Villa's first clean sheet since last December in Wednesday's League Cup match against Rotherham United. Steer came to Villa from Paul Lambert's old Norwich City squad and should provide some nice depth - especially in Cup play - behind first-choice keeper Brad Guzan.
Brought in from Sevilla, Luna has already made himself a fan-favorite. The "Tony Moon" nickname certainly doesn't hurt his cause. He's also already shown that he's the type of defender who is fast enough to get up the pitch and contribute in the attack. Unlucky own goal against Chelsea aside, Luna is making a great impression already. We can't forget his opening-day highlight against Arsenal:
Brought in today, Kozak is perhaps the most perplexing move of the entire summer. He's coming in for a fee somewhere north of £5 million, he's yet another striker in Villa's already-deep front line. He comes from Lazio where he scored 10 goals in Europa League play last year - to lead that competition - but none in 19 league appearances. He's certainly not a bad player, but he doesn't really seem to fill a need. It will be interesting to see what Paul Lambert plans on doing with him.
I'm not looking at any of the other players who re-signed, but after Benteke handed in his transfer request, we all figured he was gone. So, his re-signing feels like getting a brand-new shiny player. Benteke is a known quantity, and if the early season is any sign (four goals in as many matches) he's looking to one-up himself from last season. Sure, it's likely that he'll be gone next summer, but it's not guaranteed. Let's enjoy him while he's around, so we get more of these:
Thanks for everything: Players who left over the summer
Darren Bent - season-long loan to Fulham
Bent arrived at Aston Villa as the club's all-time record signing. He left having made little to no contribution in his final season at Villa Park. He's gone on a season-long loan to Fulham, where he has already found the back of the net once. The good news is that we can all cheer for Bent, who seems like a genuinely likable guy, as part of the loan contract included language that doesn't allow him to play against Aston Villa. No revenge! Hooray!
Stephen Ireland - season-long loan to Stoke City
Ireland joined Villa in the 2010 James Milner swap with Manchester City. After a few years of paying his wages and getting mostly nothing in return, it seems that rather than being a make-weight in the deal, he was actually a coupon that City used to bring the price of Milner down even further. There were, of course, moments of brilliance, but they were few and far between. He will be playing for Mark Hughes - under whom he had his best success - for Stoke City. His contract is up at the end of the year, so this is only really a loan because Stoke City are probably not taking over all his wages. Alas.
Brett Holman - transfer to Al Nasr
Holman had an up-and-down season with Aston Villa last year. When he was on the pitch he was almost literally unstoppable. This doesn't mean that he was all that good, just that he was everywhere on the pitch. The work rate endeared him to a lot of fans at first (myself included), but the fact that he rarely finished a match and had little to show for all of that effort made him less valuable than we all wanted. Nevertheless, he's got a shot at starting for the Australian national team in the 2014 World Cup, and the gig at Al Nasr in Dubai should give him the playing time he needs to make the most of that opportunity. Let's all just remember his lovely goal against Norwich City in the League Cup last season.
Barry Bannan - transfer to Crystal Palace
Bannan was part of the group of young players - also including March Albrighton and Nathan Delfouneso - who represented the bright future of Aston Villa in the 2010-11 season. That year, Gerrard Houllier managed to get a lot out of the young academy products, but that was the peak of their careers. Bannan in particular looked to be a vital part of future Villa squads. But, he never quite developed as much as we hoped, and a series of poor decisions off the pitch and some terrible ones on the pitch led to his exclusion from the squad for most of the latter half of last season. He's now got the opportunity to regain first-team football and playing time at Crystal Palace under Ian Holloway.
Nathan Delfouneso - loan to Blackpool
Delfouneso begins his second year at Blackpool as a loanee. He's had some success there, but the window is closing on his becoming a valuable part of Aston Villa's future. It wouldn't be shocking to see him sold in the near future.