Who doesn’t love a good summer clear out?
This certainly seems to be the case at Villa Park as a number of player’s will depart the club imminently or as soon as their existing deals expire at the end of the month.
Whilst there are the usual batch of unfortunate youngsters who have failed to make the grade, there are a few names amongst them worth mentioning.
The former Villa captain will be remembered as one of very few positives as Villa transitioned towards life in The Championship.
Discarded by West Brom, a major oversight in this blogs view, the Welsh international came to establish himself as a reliable ever present at the heart of Villa’s defence.
Despite being hampered by injury picked up whilst representing his country, he soldiered on, with Villa’s calamitous deals meaning at one point he was the only recognised centre-back.
Playing on this injury forced a long term lay-off, compounded by hamstring difficulties whilst plotting his return to the first team.
A great servant, Chester is currently on loan at Stoke, where he could concievably make his move permanent. We wish him well.
Though there are portions of Villa fans whose crystal ball informs them that releasing O’Hare is a mistake, the 22 year old has in truth rarely threatened the first team.
Whilst a tricky player, a handful of senior Villa first team appearances suggested that more development work was required. Spells away on loan have become the norm, with the most recent being a successful promotion campaign from League 1 with Coventry.
Whilst this blog hopes O’Hare goes on to have a fruitful career, on current form, it’s a big leap from impressing in the third tier of the domestic game to going toe-to-toe in the Premier League.
The writing was on the wall with club CEO Christian Purslow’s comments about that academy player’s who weren’t knocking on the door of the first team at a young age would be moved on:
“Frankly, I’m going to be brutal, 22-year-olds playing in an under-23 team means your system isn’t working. It means your system has failed because 22-year-old footballers at Aston Villa need to be in the first team.”
O’Hare, being 22, finds himself gone and is linked to a number of Championship clubs.
You can watch O’Hare’s first senior goal here as well as a strike to send Coventry towards promotion here.
Another player whose development stalled at Villa Park is winger Andre Green.
Despite becoming a first team regular between 2016 to 2018, making a fairly substantial 40 appearances, Green rarely looked un-droppable. As injuries and loss of form took their toll, he found himself increasingly peripheral and as a result sent out on loan.
Spells at Portsmouth and Preston suggested all was not well, with the midfielder making just ten appearances before returning to Villa Park. His lack of impact in the lower leagues was a concern.
With Villa’s promotion and investment in the midfield Green became surplus to requirements and was again loaned out, this time to Charlton. Whilst his time at Charlton showed improvement in terms of appearances and form, it did not prove enough to warrant Villa offering him a new deal.
Green scored two goals for Villa, the most memorable being a fantastic headed equaliser in a thrilling comeback draw with Sheffield United (3-3):
#AVFC 3-3 Sheffield Utd
Assume. Crash. Positions.
— Villa Underground (@avfc_vilr) February 8, 2019
Now wasn’t this is a classic ‘waste of time’ signing that epitomises Villa’s haphazard recruitment?
Though the Spaniard featured for a mere 16 minutes in a Villa shirt, he has been included in Villa’s matchday squad since the Premier League restarted. It’s expected that he will move to Zaragoza as soon as this weekend, prompting the question of exactly who will step up?
The writing was on the wall perhaps as early as January, with Swansea fans taking the time on social media to thank Villa for taking Baston off their hands. It’s never a good sign.
Baston broke onto the scene whilst on loan from Atletico Madrid, bagging 18 La Liga goals for Eibar. The previous season he had impressed at Zaragoza too, scoring 22 times in 38 outings.
He joined Swansea City for an eye watering £15 million pounds in 2016, finding the goal just seven times before two loan spells back in Spain. A little over three years after his big money move to Wales he would arrive at Villa Park for nothing. Baston leaves having done…nothing.
What an utter waste of time.
AND THE REST
We wrote earlier this week about Hepburn-Murphy being on his way out. An ironic turnaround for a player stalling in a new deal with the club 3 years ago. Matija Sarkic will also leave after being heralded as a keeper to watch for the future, with Wolves rumoured to be interested.
Jake Doyle-Hayes came close to promotion with Cheltenham Town, starring in the first leg win over Northampton Town and even getting the nickname ‘Xavi’ whilst on loan. However, they threw away a two goal lead and his campaign and career at Villa is up. Ross McCormack, who left the club this time last year, his deal also officially expires this month too.
Danny Drinkwater and Pepe Reina’s longevity at Villa Park also remains unclear past the 30th June.
The youth players released are Jamie Searle, Jack Birch, Colin Odutayo, Anton Hooper and Dimitri Sea.
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