It’s perhaps a good thing that players in Villa’s squad are turning heads for the right reasons. It won’t need this site to remind seasoned supporters of the amount of dross purchased over the years that we’ve subsequently been unable to shift! Here is the latest on the future of both Keinan Davis and Cameron Archer.
KEINAN DAVISEmbed from Getty Images
One of the more pleasing aspects of the latter half of last season was to see the rehabilitation of Keinan Davis. The strong frontman has never failed to catch the eye with his hold-up play when called upon at Villa Park, but a lack of goals and persistent injuries saw him loaned out to Forest.
The two time European Champions, who had been out of the top flight since 1999, secured promotion via the Playoffs. Davis played no small part in Steve Cooper’s sides ascent up the division, putting in a number of decent displays and becoming something of a cult hero at The City Ground.
Whilst few at Villa could realistically see Davis in Steven Gerrard’s plans (even before a successful loan), its pleasing to see the 24 year old kick on. The time is arguably now for him, as he’s long past the point of being considered an up-and-coming prospect at the club. Indeed, it would be a shame for him to suffer Gary Gardner syndrome.
Davis’ stock is high and whilst Forest probably remain his most alluring option owing to Premier League football, it’s unclear if the East Midlands side will put their faith with him leading the line next season. Whilst certainly capable in The Championship, there remains a question mark in terms of whether a reliance upon the low-scoring but handy attacker would be the right call when staying up after the first season back up is so hard.
There is pretty consistent reporting that Villa have floated a fee in the region of £15m to Forest, which in the current market doesn’t seem unreasonable. Recently relegated Watford, cash rich courtesy of a parachute payment, are the other interested party. It will be interesting to see where Davis ends up, especially if that turns out to be Bodymoor Heath.
CAMERON ARCHEREmbed from Getty Images
Archer, a rapidly emerging talent at Villa Park, burst onto the scene last year and followed up early promise with a number of goals whilst out on loan at Preston North End.
The Walsall born striker has continued to raise eyebrows with a number of free-scoring displays for England U21’s this summer.
Villa likely cannot believe their luck, after Archer made a scoring debut in the EFL Cup, before taking to senior football like a duck to water in The Championship. This presents its own challenges of course; how to nurture his development, keeping a talented player content and avoid him being poached?
What is for certain is that there is no shortage of interested parties interested in taking Archer on loan: West Brom, QPR, Watford and Rangers are all in the hunt. Preston, Archer’s loan club in the second half of last season have already approached Villa to confirm they will match any Championship approach for the 20 year old.
What remains unclear at this point, is does Steven Gerrard see Archer as a (not so) secret weapon in his Villa squad for the 2022/23 campaign.
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Aston Villa season review and preparations for next season
Aston Villa were strongly tipped to secure a top half finish in the Premier League last season, but it is fair to say that things did not go to plan.
Their tally of 45 points was ten fewer than the previous campaign and resulted in the club finishing in a rather underwhelming 14th place.
However, a quick look at the odds for next term suggest that the bookies think Villa should be firmly in the mix to secure a top-half finish.
More ambitious punters may fancy wagering on Villa to muscle into the top six, and this 10bet review points to where fans are likely to get the best odds.
Read on as we review last season and assess whether Villa represent much in the way of value to mount a serious challenge for the top six.
Jury still out on Gerrard
Villa’s decision to sack Dean Smith as manager last November after a run of five straight defeats could be argued to have been a little harsh.
Replacing him with Steven Gerrard was a risky move, particularly as his only previous managerial experience was with Rangers in the Scottish Premiership.
For all the fanfare about Gerrard’s arrival at Villa Park, the jury remains out about his ability to take the club where it aspires to be.
Villa have won just 10 out of 28 games under Gerrard and that statistic needs to be significantly improved if Villa are to kick on next season.
Villa have a strong base to work from
While finishing 14th was a hugely disappointing outcome, it would be churlish to suggest that Villa fans have nothing to look forward to next season.
They have one of the best goalkeepers in the top flight in Emiliano Martinez, while Matty Cash was a model of consistency at right back.Embed from Getty Images
Villa have loads of quality elsewhere in the squad, although there is also plenty of deadwood that needs to be moved on.
Morgan Sanson, Trezeguet, Anwar El Ghazi and Bertrand Traore are amongst the players who could be heading out of Villa this summer.
Early transfer business looks promising
Gerrard’s decision to make Philippe Coutinho the biggest earner at the club is a gamble, but could pay huge dividends if he rediscovers his best form.
The £26 million signing of Sevilla defender Diego Carlos looks excellent value, and a move for Burnley’s James Tarkowski would further strengthen Villa at the back.
Boubacar Kamara’s arrival on a free transfer from Marseille boosts Villa’s midfield options, which leaves Gerrard needing to sort out his front line.
Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings have yet to prove they can play alongside each other and it would be no surprise to see a new attacking signing before the season starts.
Villa 2022/23 season expectations
With a decent squad already in place and some key signings sorted nice and early, Villa fans can look forward to the upcoming campaign with renewed hope.
However, the likely loss of assistant manager Michael Beale is a blow, with the 41-year-old in line to be appointed as Queens Park Rangers’ new boss.
Beale is regarded as the brains behind Villa’s coaching operation and finding a suitable replacement is unlikely to be straightforward.
If Villa successfully fill the void a top ten finish should not be beyond them, but talk of mounting a challenge for European qualification is probably fanciful.