It’s been a very smart, and very productive, summer at Villa Park.
That pretty much goes without saying. On the surface, Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa have facilitated the departure of two big-name players who wanted out, and have facilitated the signing of their replacements, as well as players who plug holes at other departments.
The whole summer pretty much came full-circle today, when the club announced the signings of Rudy Gestede and Jordan Veretout, a pair of guys who are the closest things to Christian Benteke and Tom Cleverley replacements you’re going to find this window. And while I could go on and on about this summer’s targets as being the smartest thing from the window, the way the club have handled them is even better.
The quartet of players with high potentials — Jordan Amavi, Jordan Ayew, Veretout and, I suppose, the 26-year old Gestede — have something in common: They all signed five-year deals at the club.
Unlike Micah Richards and Idrissa Gueye, who both signed appropriate four-year deals, these four are going to take a little time to develop, and a little time to see what they’ve got.
And while I would’ve been pleased with four-year signings, CEO Tom Fox and the club have shown a clear intent to develop, and get the most in return for these guys when they’re ready to sell.
Signing players to five-year deals almost ensures the club are going to get the maximum value for all their players, and that’s exactly what Villa need.
We saw it earlier this summer with Fabian Delph and Ron Vlaar, a pair of players whose market values 12 months ago probably would’ve totaled upwards of £20 million. Well, except for the whole thing about both of them being out of contract just a year later. Delph did the club a favour by sticking around with a release clause to ensure Villa could bring in Gueye, but it was terrible asset management, brought on by the failures of the era of the Pauls, Lambert and Faulkner.
The commitment to long-term deals shows belief in their targets, sure, but it also shows Villa are going to take the right route back up the Premier League, the one that can only occur when targets are swung for a maximum profit.
All things considered, this is probably a "destination move" for Gestede. He’s played almost exclusively in the Championship since coming to England, and he’s 26. Keeping him under club control through 2020 ensures Villa have what should be a key player for the rest of his prime.
But that contract length is even more important when it comes to the three Jordans; Amavi, Ayew and Veretout. All three are in their early 20s, and are coming off their first true breakout seasons in Ligue 1. While they may settle in the Premier League quickly, it’s perhaps more likely they need the first half of this season to adjust to the rigours of English football. And that’s fine, because when they shine next year, Villa are in a great position to ask for top dollar.
And if nobody comes calling in 2017? Well, there’s still another year of growth to occur, further driving up the price. These guys can all spend three seasons at Aston Villa developing, like Benteke did, and still notch the club top-dollar in the transfer market, because they’ll have 24 months still there on their contracts.
Asset management was a huge failure of the previous regime at Villa Park. This summer? It’s been totally different, and that’s a joy to see.