We’re all guilty of getting sucked into all the latest transfer speculation and there’s nothing more exciting than your club signing new players. The anticipation of seeing the new men stepping out onto the Villa Park pitch and wearing the famous claret and blue is one of the most satisfying things about following this football club. Therefore I shall be documenting and evaluating the transfers as they happen and will give each transfer an excitement rating out of 10.

3.09.20 – Matty Cash

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for; a signing! After a few weeks of twiddling our thumbs and refreshing our twitter feeds, first through the door is 23 year old Nottingham Forest right winger turned right back Matty Cash. Signed for a fee of £14 million rising to £16 million on a 5 year deal. Now, he’s not the biggest of names and is signed from the Championship but Cash possesses all the attributes needed to be a modern day Premier League full back. The combination of his attacking prowess and defensive determination makes him good value at the price we paid, just ask Forest fans. Cash loves to bomb forward, he has offensive qualities in abundance but also has a tremendous work rate and an aggression about his game that you can’t help but love. Because of these mixed bag of strengths he’s played a number of positions during his time at Forest including right wing, left wing and central midfield, versatility in a player is always handy. It’s up for debate whether we need to be signing a new right back but with Frederic Guilbert’s recent injury problems and Ahmed Elmohamady approaching 33 and in the last year of his contract, to me it seems like a clever piece of thinking ahead from Dean Smith and co, who described Forest’s player of the season last year as “One of England’s brightest young prospects”. I think Matty Cash will turn out to be a succesful piece of business for the club.

Excitement Rating : 7.5/10

09/09/20 – Ollie Watkins

Second to arrive, Sky Bet EFL player of the season and Brentford’s leading talisman Ollie Watkins on a 5 year deal. After a long few weeks of preparing bids and chasing the signature of the 24 year old, a fee of £28 million potentially rising to £33 million was accepted meaning he’ll reunite with former head coach Dean Smith. A new club record and a very hefty fee for a Championship player I must admit but to get what you want, sometimes you must over pay. Watkins boasted some impressive goal scoring stats last season – 26 goals in 50 appearances for the Bees, promisingly all of them from open play. This was just his first season playing a centre forward role, he previously played out on the wing, hitting double figures from there in his two previous seasons for Brentford. Like Matty Cash, Watkins looks like a ready made Premier League player. Pace, finishing, off the ball movement and heading are just a few of his many strengths, everything you want in your number 9. I’m very optimistic that Ollie Watkins’ contribution this season for Aston Villa will be a big one and I think he’ll end up being the prolific centre forward that last season deprived us of.

Excitement Rating : 9/10

16/09/20 – Emi Martinez

Signing number three of the window is 28 year old Argentinian goalkeeper Emilliano Martinez, for a reported fee of £16 million potentially rising to £20 million on a 4 year deal. During the back end of last season, Martinez stepped in to be Arsenal’s number one after an injury kept Bernd Leno out for the duration of the season. A nine game stretch saw Arsenal’s current longest serving player put in some impressive performances in between the sticks for The Gunners. He shed tears in the FA Cup Final win vs Chelsea after never getting much of a look in the first team, despite being on Arsenal’s books since 2010. After six loan spells, ranging from Getafe to Reading, he will now finally get his well earned chance as a first choice goalkeeper in the Premier League and I for one, am delighted it will be for Aston Villa. Martinez is a brilliant shot stopper. Standing at 6ft5 tall, he is commanding as a keeper can get, he makes the penalty area his own and puts defenders at ease when confidently plucking crosses out of the air which can’t really be said for Orjan Nyland. With Tom Heaton out till November, a new goalkeeper was deemed a priority by Dean Smith and fingers crossed Emi Martinez can be Villa’s number 1 for years to come.

Excitement Rating : 9/10

19/09/20 – Bertrand Traore

As expected the next through the door is Olympique Lyon winger and Burkina Faso international Bertrand Traore. Signed for a reported fee of £17 million on a 4 year contract. Despite a poor campaign in a cut short Ligue 1 for the French side, scoring just the 1 goal, in previous years Traore’s goal contribution figures are fairly promising. In his first season he scored 13 and assisted 4, the following season he scored 7 and assisted 2, which when you discount last season when at times he was in out of the picture and playing games at right wing back for Lyon, 20 goals over his first two seasons is a decent return. Football isn’t entirely based upon stats and Traore will bring a much needed injection of pace and directness on the wing for Villa. Blessed with quick feet and an array of flicks and tricks within his attacking arsenal, he will bring something we lacked in the final third last season. The only criticism I have is that he’s very left footed, he plays off the right and will always look to cut onto his stronger left foot in Arjen Robben fashion, which can prove to be predictable but he makes up for it with his ability to wriggle out of tight spaces and give himself the extra yards he needs. He’s likely to be frustrating at times but the talent is undoubtedly there and like any Villa signing he should be fully backed.

Excitement rating : 8/10

30/09/20 – Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley joins Villa from Chelsea on a season long loan making him our 5th signing of the window. Barkley, a recent England international who has made 202 Premier League appearances with 25 goals and 27 assists to his name was reportedly straight down the M1 after being in the squad but not getting any minutes in Chelsea’s Carabao Cup penalty defeat to Tottenham last night. The 26 year old will bring a skill set similar to our own Jack Grealish, superb dribbling skills and quality close control. Not only is he technically gifted on the ball, he has a big enough physique to bring a bit of much needed strength and presence to the Villa midfield. His game is to drive forward at players with pace before getting a shot away where possible. The proposition of Barkley and Grealish linking up with Watkins up top making clever runs, John McGinn being John Mcginn and Douglas Luiz in behind is a very exciting one. For me, this is a big coup for Villa and a massive statement of intent that Villa are making eye catching moves as a football club.

Excitement rating – 9/10

16/10/20 – That’s all, folks.

So there we have it. The international transfer window closed on the 5th October and now the exclusive window for Premier League and EFL clubs is now closed. Villa made 5 signings in total, with an estimated total spend of around £80 million. We welcome Matty Cash, Ollie Watkins, Emi Martinez, Bertrand Traore and Ross Barkley to Villa Park. As the window remained open whilst the new season got underway, let’s review the progress the new Villa men have made since signing.

Matty Cash has looked an excellent acquisition. He looks made for the Premier League. What’s impressed me most about Matty is his work rate. He gets up and down the right flank with productivity in attack as well as being defensively solid, especially at making well timed recovery tackles and stopping crosses into the box. His debut against Sheffield United saw him play some brilliant whipped crosses into the box. I’m liking what I’m seeing so far from him.

Ollie Watkins has already done what he was signed to do. 5 goals in 6 appearances in all competitions so far and hopefully he’s not going to stop there. A perfect hat-trick in an unbelievable 7-2 win against the Champions Liverpool got him off the mark in the Premier League. From what we’ve seen so far, Ollie looks like the real deal. He has a bit of everything – great hold up play, good in the air, a desire to get into goal scoring positions and his link up play are all parts of his game that have really impressed me. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t hit 15 goals in all competitions this season.

Emi Martinez started off his Villa career with a penalty save and a clean sheet on his debut against Sheffield United, doesn’t get much better than that. Emi already has a fan favourite feel about him. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this confident in a Villa goalkeeper since Brad Friedel, like expected he commands his area well and claims crosses confidently. He followed up his Sheffield United clean sheet with one away at Fulham and then made a couple of important saves in the win vs Liverpool.

Bertrand Traore’s Villa debut began with a goal in the 3-0 Carabao cup win vs Bristol City, and what a goal it was. A first time side footed volley floated into the top corner, with his weaker foot too, so much for being one footed! He hasn’t made a Premier League start yet being kept out by the hard working Trezeguet but from what we can so far is that Traore is comfortable on the ball and backs himself when taking on players. Let’s hope he can prove himself to be a worthy first team starter when he gets the chance.

Ross Barkley had a debut to remember and one that for him on a personal level will be even sweeter being a boyhood Everton fan. He came straight into the starting line up in the win vs Liverpool which was deemed harsh on Hourihane at the time but proved to be the right call from Dean Smith on the night. Barkley gave us some added bite and drive in midfield. He linked up with Grealish well as well as taking some pressure of of Jack himself and got into some great attacking positions. He topped off his impressive debut with a goal, on another night he could’ve scored 3. But so far so good for Ross and long may performances and results like that continue.

Overall Window Rating : 9/10

This has been one of the best transfer windows Villa have had for some time. It’s been a window of quality over quantity, opposite to last season. Each individual signing have all impressed in one way or another and have all had a positive impact to Villa’s strong start to the season. Perhaps it would’ve been nice to sign another forward for cover or possibly a left back which is why I wouldn’t give it full marks of 10/10, but maybe that’s just me being greedy. Let’s hope Villa can continue their fine form and hope the new signings can continue to flourish in claret and blue. UTV.