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The players that Aston Villa MUST pursue in the summer

Xia and Villa have money to go big, but they must do their research first.

Stan might once again be the man, but who will join him?
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

After a terrible season, Aston Villa have been brought by Tony Xia

Villa are said to have a transfer budget north of £30 million, which is an extremely tempting amount to splurge on whomever is interested in joining Aston Villa.

Now, what Villa must do is blend experience with youth and produced a gameplan that is identical for all levels and this must include direct football - frankly, Aston Villa aren't good enough to hold onto the ball and won't be able to create a team that is, right now.

Serious moves need to be made to bolster Villa in the middle of the park: they are absolute lightweights and can't create chances. How do you score goals? By creating chances. We've long looked at Villa's forwards as an issue, but the truth is - Villa can't service them.

This being the case, I've compiled a list of targets I believe Villa must pursue in order to stabilise ahead of a future return to the Premier League. My rule is that younger players must be signed on cheaper, long-term contracts with higher transfer fees, whilst the older players are signed to one-year contracts for a lot higher of a wage. I want to avoid an N'Zogbia situation where someone coming to the tail-end of performance is signed to a long contract.


I wouldn't be too upset with Mark Bunn, Jed Steer or even Benji Siegrist rotating in this position, but long-term stability is needed between the sticks.

I'm not at all convinced that Villa will keep all three of the above keepers and if that is the case, I'd recommend Aston Villa to chase QPR's Alex Smithies as their goalkeeper for the foreseeable future, £3 - £4.5 million might be enough to prise the youngster away from the Londoners, but if they don't bite - Rob Green will be available as a short fix. Cardiff's Joe Lewis will also be available. I'd prefer youth in this case, though, as Villa aren't too secure in this area unless Steer or Siegrist develop.


Even with the absence of Jores Okore, Villa will be okay with having Kevin Toner, Janoi Donacien, Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker rotate at the centre-back position. Baker has performed above-average in the Championship this year and will be a miss for Bristol City as he returns to Villa.

That being said, if Villa lose Amavi - they don't have a serviceable left-back. Joe Bennett may be decent - but if he's injured, Villa have no-one to turn to.

Enter Rico Henry. Clocking up almost 50 appearances for Walsall in League One, Rico Henry is a left-back in the same mould as Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, and one Gareth Bale. It's no surprise Tottenham are after him! Should Walsall fail to secure qualification to the Championship (they likely won't secure promotion after a 3-0 playoff loss), Villa would be foolish not to consider bringing him onboard for next season's campaign.

Brighton's centre-back, Lewis Dunk should be pursued as well as Wolverhampton's Danny Batth, but there's no loss to Villa if they fail to sign these players.

At right-back, Villa have another issue. Alan Hutton remains serviceable enough but is another weak link and Derby County's Cyrus Christie is a valid target to bolster Villa's defense. Burton Albion's Kelvin Maynard would also help out if Alan Hutton does stay. It's a shame that Villa let Matthew Lowton go, as he is needed right now and will be plying his trade in the Premier League with Burnley.

Defending is all about chemistry, having the backs of your teammates and knowing where they will be. It's more important to sign players with a positive mindset than world beaters as we know what happens when Villa gun for the best available to them.


Aston Villa will miss Idrissa Gana despite what his doubters say and if Ashley Westwood and Gary Gardner are presumed to start in midfield, Villa will have ball-playing ability, but lack presence which will ensure their defense is held under pressure.

Emmanuel Frimpong would be an incredibly cheap option and fought back intense racism over in Eastern Europe with a certain 'two-fingered salute'. He's got the desire and bite to replace Gana in the Championship for Villa. The possible return of one Stan Petrov offers Villa another option, but he will lack the pace he didn't even have in the first place. Couple him with Frimpong and you've got a jury-rigged midfield.

Villa should look to push out a number of academy players into the first team next season, Riccardo Calder and Jordan Lyden strike me as two solid options meaning cash can be saved to bring in experienced heads. Walsall's aging Adam Chambers could be brought in with a view to him becoming a coach at Villa to place a level-headed veteran within Villa's dressing room. That's without mentioning he was Walsall's player of the year in a side that impressed many this season.

Joey Barton has aired his views on the situation at Aston Villa previously and would be a good option, if he can avoid kicking someone's head in - why wouldn't Villa want Burnley's player of the year? It's a shame they let him go to Rangers, as he was clearly available.

Someone else who wouldn't suffer the fools at Villa gladly is Gareth Barry, who has played at an incredible level for Everton this year, but an Everton team on the verge of an overhaul and Barry's age and pace might make him a liability in the eyes of a new manager.

Jack Grealish should start every game next season and a reasonable backup for him would be Harry Forrester. Released by Villa, Forrester now plys his trade up north for Glasgow Rangers and would offer creativity in the absence of Grealish.

Mile Jedinak is another option Aston Villa should look to pursue, if Crystal Palace choose not to keep him and his counterpart, Joe Ledley could be available having played in only half of Palace's games this past season.

Villa need to make a number of moves in the middle of the park to replace those who are set to leave the club. If these guys can create and manufacture chances, it won't matter who is playing up front.


Villa can't create or convert chances to, well, stay in the Premier League and that lies on the shoulders of those in midfield as much as it does on the men upfront. With Jordan Ayew likely to leave alongside Gabby Agbonlahor and Libor Kozak, it's just Rudy Gestede, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, Callum Robinson, Scott Sinclair, Andre Green and Adama Traore who can play out wide or as the striker. Villa could certainly do with one or two more senior players to bolster their striking department.

Will Grigg's been on fire for Wigan and should be on the radar for everyone north of League One. That being said, it wouldn't harm Villa if he isn't able to deliver as well as he has for the Latics. Grigg is a Birmingham lad and grew up supporting the Villa, hopefully he can find confidence and score for the Villans!

Hal Robson-Kanu will feature for Wales in the coming European Championships, but he doesn’t actually belong to anyone following his release by Reading. A perfect target for Villa.

Marcus Rashford is wishful thinking, but as Jose takes charge at United, he might have an outside shot of moving away on loan. That being said, it's likely Rashford will make England's Euro 2016 squad and thus may feature for Manchester United if big money isn't spent on a few new strikers. A more realistic option would be Huddersfield’s Nahki Wells, whom Villa fans might just remember…

At the end of the day, your views are just as important as mine. Who would you sign for Aston Villa? Let us know below!