With one game left in the Premier League season, Aston Villa are safe from relegation. While this season is slightly different due to a certain cup final Villa will play in, Villa can now at least (partly) turn their attention to the summer. Despite the turn around in the last couple months, there are still some areas of weakness that Villa can fix. I decided to ask the 7500 to Holte staff what areas they think should be addressed first.
Q: Villa are safe! In your eyes, what's the first priority for Aston Villa in this coming offseason?
I would make re-upping Ciaran Clark my top priority. He is out of contract at the end of 2016 and was our best player for much of the season. He's also an academy product, and I see him as someone who could help lead us to much greater heights.
Get Christian Benteke to sign a new contract. Best case scenario, he signs pretty quickly and we can go on with dealing with other things like Clark's contract as Brian mentioned. Worst case scenario, he leaves, but if this is our first priority, there should be time to find and sign a suitable replacement.
I guess the obvious answer is trying to keep Benteke, Ignoring that, for me it's getting a first team central defender. Someone not older than their mid 20s who's everything we wish Ron Vlaar was without the injuries. I heard a few fans talking about the fella from Basel, Fabian Schar. Seems like he'd be a great target. Someone else mentioned Michael Dawson more as a joke because well he's ex-Spurs and Hull are probably going down. Hold on to your butts.
Apart from the obvious ownership question, confirming Benteke's position as early as possible, especially if he wants to go. We want an auction, not a last-minute sale to whoever's still got money at the end of the window. In terms of positions, left-back to me is still the glaring issue where even Cissokho, our supposed first choice, is simply not good enough in an attacking sense.
I'd say it's finding some stability from the owner, whoever that ends up being. But no matter how that whole situation plays out, we need to end up with someone who is willing to provide Sherwood with the resources he needs to get the squad he desires for next season. There are a number of different positions that could be addressed, and I'm extremely interested to see how Sherwood goes about molding the squad to his liking over the summer. But he can't do that unless he's provided with the backing of a stable owner.
The first transfer window is an important one for any manager. As it's Tim Sherwood's first chance to really start shaping the squad in his vision, he'll have to decide who will be staying and who will be going. Decide if any of the left backs on the roster are worth keeping, and start looking for a new one if not. As some people have already stated, getting players like Clark and Benteke to sign new contracts is important. Maybe get Grealish on higher wages too?
Probably Benteke, the owner, or a new left back. But since everyone has already said that, how about this: a strike partner for Benteke. Who knows if Libor Kozak will ever be healthy again, but it would be great to have a reliable option to score a few goals other than just the big Belgian.
Absolutely a left back. It's the only position where Villa don't have Premier League-quality options in Tim Sherwood's system.
Obviously, I was tempted to say Benteke, but I'm not too concerned either way there. If he stays, it's a fantastic boost; if he leaves, the club should be able to command a high fee, one that could shape the future of the club in a way similar to Southampton's summer, just in a slightly-smaller scale. I'm cool with either one.
While left back is the obvious area of concern which I believe Sherwood will undoubtedly address, the area where I want to see a new face is in goal. Brad Guzan has lost his form, and Shay Given is simply too old and physically incapable to hang with the big boys of the Premier League. Seeing Sherwood bring in a relatively young keeper with a high ceiling like a Jack Butland or Kasper Schmeichel would really make me feel better about how we fare between the sticks, and hopefully give our back line occasional get-offs from their inevitable (next year hopefully rarer) calamities.
Villa need to lock the big man down, Benteke needs a new contract. Ideally this would be funded by the departure of Darren Bent.
We also need to evaluate our striking talent, Benteke is injury prone and has spots of terrible form. We need a foil.
I think the first thing you do no matter what is figure out what the hell you're doing with Benteke. Either you sell him and get a big chunk of money you can reinvest for a replacement and/or to make the squad stronger. Or you keep him, and focus in on players at other positions. I think we would all prefer we keep him, but anyone is available for the right price. I think no matter what happens, you have to have him be the first domino to fall and what you do depends on what direction he falls.
That's what we all had to say, but now we want to hear from you. What should Villa's first priority be this summer?