As it is now early January, the winter transfer window has officially opened. With that comes the annual tradition of numerous speculative stories regarding potential moves. It can be a dense jungle when it comes to the amount rumours out there.
As for Aston Villa’s activity, we thought it might be a good idea to try and navigate through the mess in order to find the moves that seem to be gaining the most traction.
First off, Villa’s transparent owner - something that should be appreciated - Dr. Tony Xia took to Twitter earlier this week to outline what the club and manger Steve Bruce have planned for January:
Lots fans asked me comment about someone’s opinion about ‘ambition’. I did learn dreams only come true when you practically work hard on it and I do think we may need 1or2 strengths at the most,no more instability. #UTV— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) January 3, 2018
Clearly, the claret and blue will likely look to bring in one or two more players this month. That statement from the owner seems to coincide with what Steve Bruce said after Villa’s 5-0 win over Bristol City:
“You always want to do it sooner but we haven’t got anything lined up. There are one or two things bubbling, which you would probably expect... There are one or two things now we would like to go and invest in. Obviously with the situation we are in, we can’t.”
The situation Villa’s boss referenced is the fact that the club are keen to remain in compliance with the Championship’s Financial Fair Play rules. As our James Rushton documented, there are indications that finances around Villa Park are extremely limited.
In those same post match comments, Bruce also hinted that he is looking to loan market for a potential move and that nothing will likely come to fruition until later this month.
Thus with this week’s most prevalent rumours are likely more speculative than anything. Furthermore, given the fact that the names commonly linked are mostly midfielders, we would urge you to take these with a grain of salt.
Here are the four players we found to be continually popping up in regards to a potential move to Aston Villa.
Nick Powell - Wigan Athletic (estimated market value: £1m+)
Earlier this week, it was suggested that manager Steve Bruce could be in for an attacking midfielder. That player was subsequently reported to be Wigan Athletic’s Nick Powell.
Powell as you might recall came through the ranks of Crewe’s famed youth system and began his career with the club. After impressing at Gresty Road, he was tipped to be the next star from the prosperous youth academy.
That billing earned him a move to Manchester United for nearly £7m in 2012! Unfortunately for Powell, his career never quite flourished at Old Trafford. His struggle to crack the first team led him to be loaned out to Wigan, Leicester and Hull City.
At the start of the 2016/2017 season, he finally joined Wigan Athletic permanently on a free transfer. Since that move, Powell’s play has been fairly impressive.
In his 45 appearances in all competitions, he has tallied 16 goals and 2 assists. Ten of those goals have come this year in League One.
That recent form has certainly led to him being linked with bigger clubs. Powell also previously appeared five times for Steve Bruce at Hull City.
Powell prefers the no. 10 position, but has shown versatility in playing the role of a centre-forward and shadow striker. Given all the factors, Nick Powell coming to Villa Park doesn’t seem entirely out of the question.
Going to go a little against the grain here and say that Nick Powell could be a good signing, given how often he’s among the goals at this level — and that he’s still only 23. #AVFC— alex carson (@_alexcarson) December 30, 2017
Though with Jack Grealish’s brilliance of late, a move for him would be far more likely if Mauricio Ponchettino decides to recall Josh Onomah.
Adam Clayton – Middlesbrough (estimated market value: £2.7m)
The midfielder, currently at the Riverside, has made 13 appearances this year in the Championship. However, Clayton has not been named in the squad since the 25th of November and has also failed to register a goal or an assist.
Quite clearly he had fallen out of favour with Garry Monk and does not look to be in the plans of Tony Pulis.
However, Clayton at one point was a fixture in Boro’s starting XI. In the previous two seasons, he made a total of 77 appearances in both the Championship and the Premier League.
Though it must be noted, his stats during that time were not terribly impressive. He only tallied a goal and two assists.
Villa should not be lacking for quality in the midfield with the likes of Conor Hourihane, Mile Jedinak, Henri Lansbury, Josh Onomah, and Glenn Whelan available for selection.
The rumours also indicate that Clayton’s former club, Leeds United, and a number of other Championship sides are also interested in him.
Thus this appears to be a bit of a curious one and doesn’t look as if it would be the best use of Villa’s limited funds.
Marcus Tavernier – Middlesbrough (estimated market value: N/A)
The 18-year-old starlet is capable of playing anywhere on the left-flank and can also function as a holding midfielder. Though Tavernier has drawn attention of scouts this season playing largely as a left midfielder.
His play has led him to be linked with Aston Villa and a host of Premier League clubs since late November.
Tavernier made his England U19 debut this past October and has appeared five times for Boro in the Championship. In those five appearances, he scored one goal.
However, the majority of this season has seen him play for Middlesbrough’s U23 side. In seven appearances, Tavernier found the net five times.
The Birmingham Mail has reported that the youngster continues to catch the eye of Aston Villa’s scouts. That said, this move could be within the realm of possibilities.
However, this would likely be a move for the future and does not coincide with Steve Bruce’s desire to bolster the attack up top. Also, Aston Villa would have to purportedly fight off the likes of Arsenal, Everton and a few other Premier League clubs.
Probably pure speculation at this point - though with his potential, Marcus Tavernier coming to Villa Park could prove to be a good piece of business.
Jack Marriott – Peterborough United (estimated market value: £2m+)
This is an interesting one here. The Peterborough United forward has been linked with a move to Villa Park since roughly mid-December.
Marriott joined Posh from Luton Town at the start of the season. Since that move, the centre-forward has scored 21 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions. That clip puts him up there as one of the hottest talisman in any league.
He has again been linked with a move to Aston Villa this week. However, Marriott also seemingly indicated his willingness to stay at Peterborough United in order to see out their promotion push.
To add further intrigue, Barry Fry, Posh’s director of football, took a dig at Dr. Tony Xia when speaking to the Birmingham Mail ahead of this Saturday’s match:
“Villa have been in turmoil since Martin O’Neill left in my opinion. What I am amazed at is the lack of ambition shown by the Villa owner – why buy Villa if you don’t want to take them back to the Premier League?”
“They have a great stadium, training ground and a huge fan base – I cannot believe the club is not backing Steve to the hilt.”
With that said, whilst Jack Marriott decidedly fits the mold of what Steve Bruce appears to be targeting this January, it doesn’t look as if the two clubs would have that great of a business rapport.
Then again, the Daily Mail have reported that Peterborough have turned down a £2m bid from Leeds. Thus one could reasonably suggest that Fry’s comments could be an attempt to deter Villa from their pursuit of a vital in-form player.
If Marriott is on Steve Bruce’s radar, Saturday’s FA Cup tie could be his in-person interview.
There were a few other names out there for the week, but none garnered as much attention as the four mentioned above.
As per those discussed this week - given the fact that it is clear there might not be a ton of action this month, one would have to think that Jack Marriott and Nick Powell are the most likely to complete a move to the B6.
It is a certainty that in the coming weeks, more rumours of potential moves at Villa Park will be added to the already dense jungle.