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Aston Villa spend money but get nothing in return?

It’s possible Villa have almost nothing to show for the money spent over the past two transfer windows

Look! Samatta leaps!
Mbwana Samatta with a leaping header to challenge Bournemouth for the ball.
Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Finally, Aston Villa are ranked highly in something. Unfortunately, that something is the race to have spent the most amount of money in the last two transfer windows, and have the least to show for it.

According to CIES Football, a research group based in Switzerland, the Villa may not have spent the most in the last two transfer windows — Summer 2019 and Winter 2020 — but they have almost nothing to show for it.

Hey, Villa are second place in something! And fall directly behind Real Madrid! Yay!

Yeah. The trouble is, where we want to be is trailing Chelsea (though preferably without the transfer ban, which we assume is why they top this list):

This is where Aston Villa should be.
European clubs with the most positive transfer balances, according to CIES Football.
CIES Football

But look at some of the names on that list. Granted, Villa shouldn’t look to emulate all of them — Crystal Palace, for example, are not only deadly dull, but are relying on a goalkeeper they brought in before Summer ‘19; no team wants to lean solely on a 33-year-old journeyman keeper. Sampdoria made good money selling Dennis Praet to Leicester City, and did well to replace him; however, they made the strange decision to officially let go of Duván Zapata, he of 23 league goals for Atalanta last season . . . and let him go for far, far less than he was worth while they continue to cross their fingers and hope that the magical 37-year-old Fabio Quagliarella will bring them more than 8 goals. (Yes, Italy is strange in that Atalanta likely had a loan-to-buy arrangement in place for Zapata, but that doesn’t mean Samp didn’t make poor decisions when setting the price for that agreement.) The Italian side, who were perfectly safe last year, are now fighting for survival.

So would Aston Villa do better to replicate those who lost money on transfers — after all, Real and Barcelona are fighting it out to top La Liga, and Inter’s looking to win the scudetto. Then again, given the point difference, Tottenham and Manchester United are pretty much mid-table sides hoping for a chance to maybe overtake Chelsea in 4th, while Monaco are six points behind Rennes in 3rd, that precious automatic UCL qualifier slot.

Look, teams like those mentioned — even Monaco, who are partially owned by the fucking House of Grimaldi, a royal family I thought only existed in The Princess Diaries — can afford to take a loss in their spending habits. With the exception of Spurs, those teams are still earning lots of Euros.

Aston Villa . . . are not. Look, we sold Jonathan Kodija to a Qatari club and received 3 million euros. Selling to the Middle East is where you rake in the money, Villa! Between him and Aaron Tshibola, who went to Belgium, Villa earned a measly 4 million euros in the Summer ‘19 and Winter ‘20 transfer windows; everyone else left on a free or went out on loan.

Look, I understand that Villa needed a squad overhaul that would allow them to stay up in the league, yet the side is still in danger, and the 159 million euros the club spent is starting to look a little ridiculous, especially given that the market value of those arriving was 122.7 euros. Is the scouting department failing in their mission, are the players losing worth simply because they’re wearing the shirt, or is it just that clubs make Premier League sides pay ridiculous amounts of cash?

It doesn’t seem that Villa made too many mistakes — they likely overpaid for Ezri Konsa and Marvelous Nakamba, but Konsa is still young, while Nakamba could well come into his own once he settles — and underpaid for a few very good players, including our new star, Mbwama Samatta.

Still, they’d do well to model themselves not on the big teams they’re grouped with in the negative transfer value section, but work themselves into a place where they can be grouped with teams like Hoffenheim, who squeezed Newcastle for everything they could get before handing over Joelinton — a center forward with 25 games and just one goal, by the way; they got Newcastle to hand over 44 million euros for the man who’d scored just seven the season before. Villa can’t go all out and be Ajax, with their incredible academy and nose for knowing exactly when to sell a player, but Benfica? Hoffenheim? Atalanta? Sure.

Things could look much, much different next season. If Villa stay up, they’ll likely keep many of these same players, meaning they won’t need to spend much at all. But if they do decide to sell someone (please not SuperJack), they must do a good job shopping him around, and convince one of the sides with money to spare that he’s worth more than he seems on paper.