The Express and Star is reporting that Aston Villa are very close to their first signing of the summer. 16-year-old striker Liam Prynn (no relation), is set to make the move to Birmingham from League Two's Torquay United after the clubs agreed on a £50,000 fee. Prynn has made no starts for the senior club, but in his youth career seems to have a strong knack for finding the back of the net.
But it's pretty fruitless to analyze this deal in too much detail. Prynn is a promising striker who will enter the Villa youth system and probably not be seen at the first-team-level for a number of years. Great to have some depth, but everyone knows that's what Villa are really good at. The reason I thought this was worth posting was I think we're starting to get an idea what Paul Lambert's transfer strategy will be for the summer. This may come as a surprise to you, but I think we can expect to be hearing a lot of rumors about people we've never heard of, sprinkled in with a few names we do know.
Really, that's the long way of saying: what you saw last summer will be happening again this summer. Remember, last summer saw us bring in Joe Bennett, Ashley Westwood, Jordan Bowery and Matthew Lowton. If you knew those names before they were connected to Aston Villa, you're definitely in the minority. Villa also brought in Karim El Ahmadi, Ron Vlaar, and Christian Benteke, though; players that more fans were likely to have heard of, and who could be had relatively cheaply.
Take a look at what we've seen this summer. Rumours about Aleksander Tonev, Ivelin Popov, Liam Prynn, and a rejection of an offer for Jores Okore from the Nordsjaelland league of Denmark. All of these players would likely cost the club less than £5 million apiece, and some would probably be significantly under that number. But then, too, we've seen connections between Aston Villa and Younes Belhanda, an incredibly well-regarded prospect out of France. Even there, the fee is likely going to end up in the £12-15 million range, which is expensive, but not outrageous (especially given the amount of wages Villa are dumping this summer).
All this is to say that it's useless to try and predict any specifics of Paul Lambert's summer transfer strategy. We've got no idea who he wants to get in particular. But we can find a type: largely unheralded players who will be cheap, young, and leave us asking "who?" These will be augmented by one or two bigger names on which the club can hang some marketing and on which fans can bank their hope.
And given the success of this strategy last summer, I'm excited to see what happens this year. Lambert has an eye for talent around which a consistently competitive team can be built. And the best part is that Lambert will be doing this speculation within financial reason. Under our last manager who had a chance to really make a pattern for himself in transfers (MON), we saw the club get players who were a bit of a risk, old, and often expensive. Now we're seeing a bit of a risk, young, and cheap. That's the way to build. If some of those players fail, the club isn't hurt. If some of them succeed? Well, let's hope that happens. If this policy can pay off, Villa may be in Europe again before too long.