With Villa not having an opening day Premier League fixture last weekend, beating Man Utd in a friendly encounter at Villa Park 1-0 instead, tonight’s trip to Burton will be the curtain raiser on the 2020/21 campaign.
Meanwhile the club’s transfer activity has become frenetic, with moves for key reinforcements appearing to be coming to fruition after a short and at times frustrating summer transfer window.
Having added Ollie Watkins and Matty Cash, Arsenal goalkeeper Emi Martinez is imminent. The Argentine goalkeeper and his family have been in Birmingham for a couple of days now, whilst completing formalities and ahead of an official unveiling.
Benrahma hasn’t featured for Brentford this season, being left out the squad that faced the Blues on the opening day and isn’t expected to travel to St Marys for the Carabao Cup clash Tuesday evening.
Villa have tracked the Algerian winger for over a year and may rue not purchasing the playmaker last summer when the opportunity presented.
Brentford, as with the negotiation in regards to Watkins, remain unmoved on their valuation, holding firm on a £25 million valuation.
In an interesting development, Crystal Palace have now entered the race, offering to take Benrahma on loan initially for a year, with a view to offsetting the high transfer fee required.
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Smith, Purslow and Lange must now ponder whether to add the 25 year old to Villa’s ranks. It is a big money call to make, especially with negotiations for Bertrand Traore at an advanced stage and Milot Rashica the subject of confirmed interest from the club.
Indeed, Traore was in Copenhagen just yesterday (14th September) where it’s understood he met Villa Sporting Director Johan Lange before returning to Lyon ahead of a proposed switch. Traore requires a work permit, but this is expected to be a mere formality.
OUT THE DOOR
As Villa’s reshuffle looks likely to see a number of new faces through the revolving door, this opens up the probability of some exits.
Shaky Orjan Nyland looks set to be surplus to requirements and would find himself behind Heaton, Martinez and Steer in the pecking order after high profile errors post lockdown (Sheff United and Wolves).
Jota and Lansbury too can safely be offloaded. Jota barely contributed owing to a double hernia injury last term and looked some way off the standard required. Lansbury, must go down as an unmitigated failure at Villa Park.
Samatta did little to suggest he would be the striker in last seasons run in to fire Villa up the PL table, so Villa will undoubtedly listen to offers.
A surprise to some is that of Frederic Guilbert. Guilbert emerged in the latter stages of ther run in and looked energetic and sharp. However, patchy form and injury could see him out the door.
Whilst Guilbert is likeable, one wonders how many top flight clubs would be banging down Villa’s door for his services; a pretty effective measure of how good a player really is.
Arguably Guilbert would be worth retaining as part of the squad, especially with Ahmed Elmohamady the wrong side of 30.
It remains to be seen whether the Frenchman is part of Smith’s plans, or indeed whether he is prepared to play second fiddle to Matty Cash. However, what is clear is that Smith will turn the squad over, both as a consequence of new recruits but also to ensure ongoing FFP compliance.
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