Tony Xia hinted Thursday on Twitter at another possible signing, and the Mirror’s Darren Lewis reports Aston Villa have moved to secure the signing of Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Josh Onomah.
Hearing Aston Villa have landed the loan signing of Spurs midfielder Josh Onomah. @MirrorFootball— Darren Lewis (@MirrorDarren) August 3, 2017
Granted, it is the Mirror, and this is the only tweet we’ve got, but the rumour seems to make a good bit of sense — with Jack Grealish being out for the foreseeable future, Villa need someone to slot into that attacking midfield role. There are players currently on the roster that could do the job — perhaps Birkir Bjarnason could do it, or Henri Lansbury could slide further forward — but another midfielder could be of assistance to Steve Bruce.
That’s why Onomah would seem to tick some boxes, so I chatted with Dustin Menno from SB Nation’s Spurs blog Cartilage Free Captain to get some context.
The Carty Free guys are really big on Onomah, to the point Dustin was disappointed that the midfielder was being linked with a loan move; they see him as a Premier League calibre player today at 20, and are hoping he gets a spot in the Tottenham team this season. There’s also some interesting discussion about whether the youngster eventually slots in as more of an attacking midfielder, where manager Mauricio Pochettino typically deploys him, or as more of a box-to-box midfielder, where he thrived with England’s winning squad at the U20 World Cup a couple months ago. (The CFC guys see him more as a box-to-box guy, Menno told me.)
Given the Spurs manager’s preference to deploy Onomah as an attacking midfielder and Villa’s need at the position, it seems likely that’s what Villa would be brining him in to do; but if Bruce sees him as more of a box-to-box option, perhaps Lansbury moves further forward in the 4-3-3, as he did after Grealish’s injury during the Watford friendly.
We don’t know too much else about the rumour right now, so it’s hard to talk specifics, but perhaps a half-season loan deal could be in play here? Villa really only need a player of Onomah’s mold until Grealish returns from injury, and if Onomah would prove himself at Villa over the first four months of the season, perhaps Pochettino could see the midfielder in his Spurs plans for the second half of the season, as Tottenham’s league, FA Cup and European commitments will likely start to increase fixture load. And Dustin mentioned that Onomah hasn’t necessarily taken his chances this preseason, so a loan move could make a lot of sense if Pochettino wants the player to continue his development in an environment where he can get regular action.
It’s hard to speak too certainly to the veracity of an individual rumour, but it makes sense on three fronts: position needs, promotion needs and Financial Fair Play needs. Even if Villa don’t move for Onomah specifically, this could be where the club make their remaining moves in the transfer window — the loan market brings in players on the cheap, and for a team that’s chasing promotion right now, it’s not a bad place to be shopping.