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Aston Villa may be eyeing Japanese playmaker

Aston Villa may have their eyes set on Japanese midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake. A move for the Nuremberg playmaker is unlikely, however, unless Lambert can offload some players first.

Clive Rose

We first heard that Aston Villa were interested in F.C. Nuremberg's Hiroshi Kiyotake back in early July. At that time, the German's club's director reported that they had rejected a bid for the Japanese midfielder from Aston Villa. Well, the rumours are back. Now, it's the Mirror reporting that Aston Villa are once again interested in Kiyotake, but will only submit a bid if they can offload some of their current unwanted players first.

To be entirely honest, I'm not sure how much credence I give this rumour. It strikes me as, more than anything, persistent speculation on twitter that won't die prompting a story somewhere. So let's take a moment and rationally examine the idea of Aston Villa bringing in Kiyotake. There's a lot that makes the idea plausible, as the playmaker is the type of player that Aston Villa need and that has the skillset Paul Lambert values. Nuremberg's asking price of £10 million isn't insane, and given the fact that Aston Villa have brought in a number of players for under £20 million combined, it makes some sense that they'd have some more money to play with.

But for all the money the club hasn't spent, they really haven't brought a lot in, either. There's a lot of sense in the idea that something like this can't happen until Aston Villa get rid of a least a couple of the set of Darren Bent, Barry Bannan, Alan Hutton, Shay Given, and Stephen Ireland. The Mirror adds Nathan Delfouneso and Enda Stevens into that mix, but neither is taking up huge wages nor will they draw a big fee, so I think their impact is negligible. That a lot of dominoes to fall just to lead to one transfer, and things rarely work out so perfectly.

We've also got the fact that there really doesn't seem to be much sign that Paul Lambert is interested. I've had a gut feeling sense for a few weeks that Villa will bring someone in, but something of this magnitude doesn't fit with what we have(n't) been hearing.

Finally, there's the question of what impact Kiyotake would have. He's undoubtedly a good player, but as Andrew pointed out in our writer's email thread, it's not as if Aston Villa haven't tried a move like this before (with Ireland and N'Zogbia). I'm not sure what it is about Villa Park that is anathema to a playmaking midfielder, but something just doesn't seem to fit. Perhaps Lambert is trying to build a system that doesn't go through just one player, but rather the entire midfield. The efficacy of abandoning the playmaker can be debated elsewhere, but the lack of success of a string of supposedly solid options at least raises the question.

So don't get your hopes up too high. There's real reason to think that Aston Villa could be interested in Hiroski Kiyotake, but there's just as much reason to think that a move won't happen. I wouldn't be surprised to see this being one of those instances in which people on twitter assure a move is in the works and then silently disappear when nothing happens.

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