Earlier today Paul Lambert told us that the forthcoming summer "won't be easy" given the constraints under which he has to work. Now one of the journalists who regularly covers Aston Villa is weighing in on what those constraints may be:
@Chrsmo some £ to spend - I'd estimate £7m or so - but emphasis on loans. Free agents sure to be closely looked at too.— Brendan McLoughlin (@bren_mcloughlin) May 19, 2014
£7 million, huh? Well that's... that's not a lot of money. It'll get you one Christian Benteke two years ago, and nothing else. For a team that needs desperately to rebuild, that's a major problem.
But McLoughlin's tweet hints at how Villa may be able to work around the lack of funds, and it's a model that has led to Premier League success recently: loans. If you recall, Everton had plenty of financial restrictions when Roberto Martinez took over last summer and they were challenging for a Champions League position until the season's final few weeks. How? By bringing in Gerard Deulofeu, Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry, and (later) Lacina Traoré on loans that lasted until the end of the season.
Villa would be hard-pressed to duplicate that sort of success, but it's a model that could be very effective. A few smart loan moves from stronger clubs (the half season of Ryan Bertrand demonstrates that Villa are valid loan target for those clubs) could mean significant improvements in form over last season.
Yes, it stinks for Everton that they have to give up so many core players for next season, but they have positioned themselves to take advantage of their one-year boost. For Villa, loan players could be the stopgap needed to fill time until Randy Lerner can find a new owner for the club. While it's plausible that there may not be one over the summer, it's hard to imagine the sale taking more than a year. Guarantee survival for next year (maybe even improve a bit) and the new owners can pump in money to make more permanent improvements.