In the closing weeks of the season, creativity became key for Villa as Dean Smith maneuvered the club out of the relegation places.
Conor Hourihane led Villa’s threat going into last season, creating twice as many opportunities as Jack Grealish. The Irishman contributed 5 valuable assists last season, with Jack pipping him with 7.
One of Villa’s many limitations last year included a lack of strength in depth throughout the squad. We saw this in the closing stages of the campaign as familiar faces were rolled out (e.g. Elmohamady) rather than peripheral players (such as Drinkwater or Lansbury). Though the likes of Elmo provided us with experience and versatility, figures such as Drinkwater and Lansbury seemed to do little other than make up the numbers.
Given Villa’s need to overhaul the playing squad again, there is a glaring need to add quality rather than quantity. The summer 2019 rebuild felt very much as though we had to make £140m spread widely enough to fill the void left by a number of loans and senior player deals expiring.
This time around Villa can afford to be more discerning. Not only do we now have a better idea of who within the current squad is up to Premier League life, but also which areas needing urgent improvement.
Amongst a raft of transfer rumours includes a link to Norwich City’s Emiliano Buendia. The 23 year old Argentine creative midifielder was in the Norwich side relegated as the The Canaries finished bottom of the league. Despite this, Buendia matched Grealish’s haul of 7 assists across the campaign.
Buendia, though prior to relegation indicated that he remained ‘happy‘ at Carrow Road, is being tracked by Villa, Leeds, Atletico Madrid, Valencia as well as current European Champions Liverpool.
If approached, Buendia would command a fee of around £20 million but is currently also under contract until 2024. Villa were previously linked to the Argentinian ahead of the last January transfer window in late 2019. However, with Villa having retained top flight status and Norwich dropping to the Championship, our negotiating position can now only have strengthened for the promising midfielder.
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