For Aston Villa, pre-season is well and truly underway. On the transfer front, things have been quieter than some would like, but it certainly has been a busy couple of weeks for everyone at Villa. We've seen games, goals, tweets, and more. Check out the stories you may have missed from the last week.
Part of former owner Randy Lerner's problem was a lack of communication with Aston Villa's fans. Our new man at the helm, Dr. Tony Xia is doing his best to rectify that, by communicating with Villa fans on Twitter.
In my opinion, this is a great thing, allowing fans to see more from an owner that we don't really know too much about. The more transparency, the better. Especially when it offers insight into the things that are going on behind the scenes. For example, this Tweet seems to suggest that Jordan Ayew is sticking around this summer:
I read carefully&thanks for many ways.BTW Ayew will stay as I. I trust RDM too and he is confident to a good squad https://t.co/UxV8PVfWZv— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) July 17, 2016
It's all well and good that Dr. Xia is communicating with Villa fans like this, but it is also worth noting that English is not his first language, and gaffes like this can and will happen:
Aston Villa's pre-season fixture list has been just like waiting for a bus. You wait ages for Villa to play, and then they play twice in one day. Yes, on Saturday, Aston Villa played two pre-season friendlies, against AFC Telford and Worcester City. What a time to be alive.
In the lunchtime kickoff, Villa dominated against Telford, but almost suffered an upset as Telford lead for most of the game thanks to an early David Hibbert goal and some resilient defending. Villa, to their credit, never gave up and an equaliser by Jordan Ayew and an 89th minute winning goal by unlikely hero Aly Cissokho spared the claret and blues' blushes.
Roberto Di Matteo then drove down the A442 to see Worcester take the lead against eleven different Villans, courtesy of ex Birmingham City midfielder Mathew Birley. Villa fired back thanks to goals from Jack Grealish and Libor Kozak to take a lead into halftime. Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, playing his second game of the day extended Villa's lead before a brace from young Keinan Davis wrapped up the 5-1 win for Villa.
Two expected wins for Villa, though the objective was clearly to build up the fitness levels of the players. Next up is a game against Bristol Rovers on Wednesday before a brief soiree to France to play FC Nantes next Saturday.
Aston Villa haven't signed anyone this week, but they sure have been linked to some players this week. Some more plausible than others. From the sublime, to the farcical, check these out:
The biggest, and strangest rumour is that Aston Villa are tempted to splash out £25 million on Sporting Lisbon's Algerian sensation Islam Slimani. The 28 year old forward scored 27 goals in Portugal last season, and would definitely bolster a relatively goal shy Villa frontline.
But it's almost certainly not going to happen, for a number of reasons.
- According to Dr. Xia, Jordan Ayew isn't going anywhere. Slimani plays fairly similarly to Ayew, so there would be little point in having both.
- The last Sporting Lisbon striker to make the move to England was Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, who moved to Norwich. Despite the hype, he turned out awful. For Villa, it wouldn't be worth the risk.
- IT'S £25 MILLION POUNDS?! Like seriously, there's no way Villa are paying that much for anyone. Period.
- Finally, the rumour originated from the Daily Star, who aren't exactly the most reliable of sources.
A (Brid)cutt above the rest...or not
Defensive midfielder Liam Bridcutt is apparently a transfer target for Roberto Di Matteo, who sees him as a replacement for Carlos Sanchez, who himself is apparently off, with Marseille as his destination.
Bridcutt is a solid player, and with Championship experience to boot, but I'm not convinced that Villa need him, even if Sanchez does leave. Idrissa Gana, Jordan Veretout, Ashley Westwood and Aaron Tshibola would all be ahead of Bridcutt in the pecking order, and Gary Gardner and Jordan Lyden wouldn't be far behind. All of that before you even consider the future of Stiliyan Petrov too. It might be best for Villa to hang fire on signing another central midfielder, at least until the future of those already at the club is resolved.
Scott Sinclair could be on his way out of Villa, as Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is apparently keen on reuniting with the winger.
An initial £1 million bid was rejected by Aston Villa last month, but Celtic may yet meet Villa's £3 million asking price, especially after the Scottish side's Champions League embarrassment against Gibraltar's Lincoln Red Imps. Rodgers and Sinclair are no strangers to one another, as the winger played under Brendan Rodgers at Swansea, scoring 19 goals to get the Swans into the Premier League back in 2011.
At the end of the day, Sinclair is 27, and not terribly good. His departure would not be the end of the world.
Olof Mellberg signed for Villa 15 years ago to the day. Feel old yet?