With Villa now firmly back in pre-season training and having won one of their two 60 minute games against Bristol City, the search for transfer reinforcements continues.
Whilst Villa avoided relegation on the final day, it was clear that Smith would be needing to add improvements to Villa’s squad.
Whilst the defence certainly got better post lockdown, Villa still ended up as being the second worst in the Premier League behind bottom side Norwich City. Up front, there wasn’t a great deal to shout about either.
Big money Brazilian signing Wesley struggled for goalscoring form before suffering a season ending knee injury on New Years Day. His replacement, Ally Samatta, barely mustered a shot on target after being brought in from Belgium.
Former big-money signing Borja Baston managed just 15 minutes (matching his original £15m Swansea fee) before being shown the door. Keinan Davis, whilst having a number of positive attributes, couldn’t find the net.
It’s little surprise that Villa have been linked with a raft of striking options throughout the transfer window. Rumours about Liverpool’s peripheral striker Divock Origi do not appear to be going away, with top scoring Brentford £25m rated striker Ollie Watkins firmly on the radar too.
In an audacious rumour via the Italian press, we learn of apparent interest from Villa in 32 year old Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain.
The former Real Madrid and Argentinian international was the Golden Boot winner in Serie A in 2015/16, before joining Juventus from Napoli in £75m+ deal. The 36 goals Higuain finished on remains an Italian top-flight record.
Whilst Higuain’s goalscoring might not be reaching those heights of late, his career stats are still very impressive for a player known for clinical finishing. Indeed, he netted 121 goals whilst at the Bernabeu and has a noteworthy record for his country having scored 31 times in 75 outings.
However his form hasn’t been necessarily consistent in recent campaigns, with a disapointing loan spell at AC Milan in 2018/19. Higuain also managed 5 goals for Chelsea in 14 games during a 6 month spell that followed, but it was a stay that was largely unremarkable, despite the Blues finishing 3rd.
With that said, a striker of Higuain’s pedigree cannot be readily dismissed, nor could Villa’s current strikeforce be worsened by his addition.
Juventus’ current boss, Italian midfield legend Andrea Pirlo, has confirmed that the striker will definitely leave the club this summer. Juve are desperately looking to offload expensive players from their books having revealed a potential loss of around $130m as a result of football’s Covid-19 related suspension.
This puts clubs such as Villa in the driving seat, with Dean Smith known to have a significant transfer war-chest and the intent to add proven quality to the playing squad. Given that Juve will be eager to lose Higuain’s wages from their balance sheet and also that he’s now in the final year of his contract, a transfer fee, if any, would be nominal.
Naturally Villa would face stiff competition for the former Napoli striker’s signature. West Ham and Newcastle are known admirer’s in the Premier League, whilst a move back home to River Plate could prove tempting. However, an annual wage demand of around €5.5 million Euro’s could prove a stumbling block for the South American side.
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