So there you have it, one of the most eventful transfer windows we have ever witnessed is over!
When the clock ticked over to 11pm on Tuesday we could finally put behind us the events of the summer which have overshadowed the start of the season. We can now, finally, concentrate on the season ahead.
Join me to take a look back at this summers activity and where it now leaves us.
Let’s start with the exciting part of the summer transfer business, the in-comings!
We started the summer trying to recruit players to play alongside Jack Grealish, now I’ve no idea at what point the club knew he would be leaving and how that changed the plans going forward but we had to adapt the signings to suit the situation we were in. Christian Purslow has always said we have plans in place for all eventualities so I hope this was the case with our in-comings.
Firstly and our most expensive signing ever – Emiliano Buendia from Norwich City for a club-record £35M, a player that has shone for the Canaries for a few seasons now during their promotion and relegation years.
At 24 years-old he’s coming into his peak years and is someone I can’t wait to see develop at Villa park, if his goal against Brentford is anything to go by we are in for a real treat.
Next up was a cheeky free transfer, and the return of Ashley Young to the ranks, at 36 years-old he brings much-needed experience to a very youthful squad.
Having left 10 years ago to go and win multiple trophies at Manchester United and Inter Milan he will bring that winning mentality that is always welcome in any dressing room and while he’s getting on in years his fitness cannot be faulted as he looks fitter now than he did when he left at 26 years of age!
He has shown already in the opening few games how his versatility will be very useful.
The next player through the door was Leon Bailey for just over £30M, I will admit, I didn’t know much about him to begin with, but it didn’t take long to get very excited about him!!
A player that possesses lightning pace and has more than a few tricks up his sleeve, I think we will have a real fans favourite on our hands once he’s unleashed after the international break.
And now to something very unusual in modern times, a signing totally out of the blue, and in these times of 24-hour news and Twitter, it’s almost unheard of to announce any signing without someone knowing about it before it’s announced. Given the timing, it’s been suggested that the signing of Danny Ings for £30M was an appeasement gesture to the fans for the loss of Jack Grealish, but I think that is harsh on him as he’s more than earned the right to have the limelight all to himself, a Premier League goal-scorer of the highest quality, and he has already shown us what he’s all about, plus Ings’ will add that much-needed competition in the striking department.
Our final signing was another returning player, this time from the promotion campaign, Axel Tuanzebe, in my opinion, is the perfect fit for us, he just gets Aston Villa and will seamlessly slip into the squad without any trouble, he can also play in multiple positions.
I would like to see this loan made permanent at some point.
Lets review our outgoings:
Firstly, I have to start with the obvious one, Jack Grealish, our golden boy and the rock that we had built our foundation on, I’m not going to go on too much about this deal as it has already been spoken about enough. The facts of the matter are, he wanted to go, their was a clause that allowed it to happen, and City met the price. None of us like it but we now have to accept it and the club moves on. but it has left us for once in a very good financial position.
Bjorn Engles was next out with a return to Belgium with Royal Antwerp, he never really settled in England and never got that run of games he needed to establish himself at Villa, will be remembered for that header in the league cup final that so nearly took us to extra time.
Tom Heaton was allowed to leave on a free to rejoin Manchester United, the club where it all began for him and after the nightmare with his injury and our capture of the outstanding Emi Martinez, once Utd came in it was inevitable he would leave, things could have been very different for him had he not got injured at Burnley.
ELMO AND TAYLOR
We also said a fond farewell to two players who were well-liked by the Villa fanbase, Neil Taylor and Ahmed Elmohamady both left after their contracts were not renewed. Both players can’t be faulted for their efforts and professionalism with us, I wish both well whatever they decide to do next.
In the last two weeks of the window, we have allowed three players to go on loan. Firstly, Wesley Moraes, our once record signing has returned to his old club Brugge to try and recapture his fitness and form that led to that record deal to us two seasons ago, I hope he can get back to somewhere near his best for his sake if not ours.
We also said goodbye to Conor Hourihane once again on a season-long loan, this time to Sheffield Utd, I do think we have now probably seen the last of him in a Villa shirt. I wish him also nothing but good luck as he gave his all for us during a very difficult period in our history.
And lastly, Freddie Guilbert, looking at his Villa career so far it’s been a very odd few seasons for the likeable right back, but it does seem that his career is destined for another team and not ours, I am a little surprised that we have never given him a longer run in the team to see what he can do, but once we signed Matty Cash his days were numbered.
I think barring Jacks sale you would say all the rest are pretty much what we all expected to be leaving this summer, players that have either become surplus to requirements or just haven’t stepped up to the levels we need now as we are looking to push on.
So there we have it, summer transfer window 2021 done. But where has it left us as a club? Well, the truth is only the next 9 months will tell us for sure. With 8 outgoings and 5 in you could say we are lighter on numbers but the reality is all barring one we’re squad players at best and wouldn’t have seen much action in the first team. So have we improved the squad, I believe we have yes, as we have bought genuine quality that can enhance the first 11, yes we have lost 1 world-class player that we relied on heavily, but in losing that player and adding a few quality additions I believe we have released the burden we had created on relying on one man week in week out.
In my opinion, the outcome of this window has probably lowered expectations slightly this season, from hoping for a push at the top 6 I think now if we are honest we would all be happy with a top-half finish. That’s not me being negative as I’m far from that when it comes to Villa, it’s more that I want us now to be a sustainable and ever-improving team that brings happiness and joy when we go and play. We may have to be patient whilst the new players’ bed in after a rocky start to the season with players not quite being ready and a few niggling injury’s, but I believe once everyone is fit and firing this Villa team will be a real joy to watch.
Thanks for reading, Justin.
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