With only a few weeks to go to the January transfer window, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss what Aston Villa should do. As this is a transfer window unlike any other transfer window we have had in the last number of years. The reason is that we do not need to do anything. For quite a while now, we absolutely needed to get players in for certain positions, but this is different. We currently have a 1st 11 and we have backup for every position. I agree that our backup may not be great. But the fact that we have 2 players for every position gives us a little breathing space. This breathing space is further enhanced by our league position. We are not scraping about relegation, so we are not under pressure for any panic buys.
Our Transfer Strategy
What should our Jan transfer strategy be? To me, our strategy should be aligned with our long-term objectives and should not be as simple as just ‘improve the 1st 11’. We need to look to make Aston Villa both successful on the pitch and sustainable from a financial perspective. The key to a football club becoming sustainable is to sell players at the right time. It is a bit like trading on the stock exchange. We all want to sell high, but the shrewd investors will also sell to minimise and accept a loss.
Although, and as I said earlier, we do not need to do anything, there may be logic for us to try and mitigate any risks we have. If we got a long-term injury to a key player could we survive the rest of the season without him? The problem with this is that replacing or buying backup for a key player will be very expensive and difficult in the Jan window.
Who Should We Sell Or Keep?
My view is that every player at Villa has a price and we should not be afraid to sell any player if that price is met. The key is to determine what that price is. This is quite complex as many different factors, including contract duration impact it. The most important one for me is where the player is in their development. Back to my stock exchange analogy we want to sell when players have a high valuation. Also, players that have reached their peak and are on the decline should also be sold. Below I have grouped the players into buckets of whether we should sell or not.
Right to sell
Grealish, McGinn, Mings, Targett, El Ghazi, Trezeguet, Nakamba
Keep to improve
Watkins, Traore, Cash, Martinez, Luiz, Konsa, Davis, Wesley
Other than youth players all other players should be sold and replaced with an upgrade.
Before people jump on me to say we can’t sell those players, I am not suggesting selling them all now. I am suggesting they are to be sold if the conditions suit AVFC i.e. the money is right, and we can replace them in the same transfer window. Also, we do not want to sell too many players in one window as we do not want a complete rebuild like we had following our promotion.
My Hopes for January
I think the two best bits of business we could do would be to buy Luiz’s buy back clause out of his contract and give Luiz a new long-term contract at Villa and to sign Barkley on a permanent transfer. If we feel flush with cash and if the right player appears on the market I would like to see us buy a LB as Taylor will be leaving us in the summer and it would be good to get his replacement in during the Jan window to provide some real competition to Targett.
I would also like to see us get some backup for Jack / Barkley / Right Wing / McGinn. To me, the Jesse Lingard links look very attractive as he alone would cover each of those position and would surely improve the 1st 11, if people disagree that he would improve the 1st 11 then surely there is no debate that he would improve our bench. I would much prefer to see Lingard start against Wolves than Hourihane. I don’t believe we need any additions up front. We have Watkins and Wes is coming back soon and hopefully Davis will be fit to come on as a sub.
Of my players on the ‘For Sale’ list, I would most like to see Mings leave. I think he is probably at his peak value and will go down in value with each transfer window we enter. So if an acceptable bid comes in then we should sell and replace with a better quality and younger (left footed) CB, unfortunately ruling out signing Tuanzebe. Next summer is the time to sell Jack imo. If Jack can finish off the season well and have a good Euros then we could anticipate a fee close to 100m. I would absolutely take the 100m and try and reinvest it in some more quality for the first team. This is where we really need Lange to step up to the plate. We can’t afford to sell Jack and replace him with a dud, we need real quality to push the team forward.