Aston Villa’s summer of spending doesn’t look to be coming to a halt anytime soon with Dean Smith reportedly after two or three more transfers. The Villa boss has already made six summer signings, two of which are loan moves made permanent and it is thought that he would like eight or nine new players at the club in total. Despite earning promotion to the Premier League via a playoff victory against Derby County, it is clear to see that Smith believes his side needs to be considerably strengthened if they are to do more than just make up the numbers next season.
In theory, champions Norwich City and Sheffield United have stronger Premier League survival claims next season after they finished some 18 points and 13 points off Villa respectively. Technically speaking, Villa only had the fifth-best squad in the Championship if league position is any barometer of that. Of course, this is all theoretical and only gives half a reason to why Smith might want so many additions. The club has already been priced out of moves for centre-back Adam Webster and defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips who are both valued at £30m. Here are three names they are better off going for:
Joe Lolley was given a glimpse of Premier League football during his spell at Huddersfield Town, where he played a small part in their promotion in the 2016/17 season. Lolley’s slow rise up the English pyramid has culminated in one of his best-ever seasons with Nottingham Forest in the Championship – his 11 goals, 11 assists and seven Man of the Match awards contributed towards him scooping their Player of the Year award. The 26-year-old is quite possibly the best utility attacker in the Championship – by that, he can play central midfield, wide left, wide right, behind the striker and more. Overall, his average rating of 7.37 rates out as the fifth-best in the league. Sky Sports say the versatile midfielder could be available for around £10m which would be quite the bargain. He’s well worth the risk at that price.
Next up is actually a player who didn’t play Championship football last season but technically is one now as he’s still under contract with West Bromwich Albion – Salomon Rondon. The Venezuelan international would add a great deal of Premier League experience to a side which is maybe lacking exactly that. He could help ease the pressure off new club-record striker Wesley Moraes too. Rondon bagged 14 goals in 38 appearances whilst on loan at Newcastle United and has shown he is a consistent scorer at that level of football. It is hugely unlikely that at this stage of his career (29-years-old) he will want to languish in the Championship. His seven assists also show his ability to hold the ball and set-up others. If Smith were to change from a one-up-top system to utilising a pair of strikers, maybe Rondon is the perfect man to have amongst the side. Back-up or starter, Rondon should be a top priority – with one year to run on his deal, they may get him cheaper than expected.
Now for the reverse, a Premier League player who has been plying his trade in the Championship recently – Michael Hector. It was maybe a surprise to see Hector move from Reading to Chelsea on deadline day back in September 2015 and the 26-year-old is yet to actually play a competitive game for the Londoners. In his career, Hector has only had two permanent clubs but has been on loan to 15 different teams across England, Ireland and even Germany. The centre-back has become a solid choice in the Championship over the last two seasons for both Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday (averaged a 7.01 rating last season). He faces too much competition at Chelsea so another loan could make things easy for Villa who require strength in defence.