Gerrard is likely still in the process of assessing the squad he inhertited from predecessor Dean Smith but there is always room for improvement.
The former England international has the additional challenge of balancing what are openly high expectations from the Villa hierarchy. Christian Purslow has made no secret of this, even stating at Gerrard’s unveiling that “continuous improvement” was the minimum.
The new boss must also ensure that in adding to the squad, he doesn’t block the development of a group of promising and ambitious academy players.
The latest transfer news and rumour from Villa Park . . .
ARIBO & KENT
Links to Gerrard’s former club Rangers are perhaps a magnet for lazy journalism (oh the irony you’re probably thinking), but recent comments from Kenny Miller merit some interest.
Whilst seemingly everyone in the Ibrox sides squad has been linked since Gerrard arrived in B6, few aside from the most ardent follower could admit to watching much Scottish football.
For instance, earlier links to Borna Barisic seems tenuous at best, rooted more in Matty Targett’s struggles at left back prior to Smith’s sacking.
Miller’s comments at least give some insight into who might be considered to be who the top players in the group are:
If you were to ask me right now who Gerrard might come back to try to sign, it would be Aribo or Kentkenny miller
Joe Aribo is a full Nigerian international and an imposing midfielder at over 6ft. The 25 year old is technically sound and is currently deployed centrally behind the striker, but can play across the middle.
Ryan Kent remains another intriguing link, with the 25 year old wide-man attracting a lot of attention following a £6.5m move from Liverpool.
The winger was a key member of the SPL title winning campaign, contributing 10 goals in what was an unbeaten season. It does remain to be seen what Villa’s strategy for recruitment in this position will be, particularly given that the club have splashed out two £30m+ sums on Leon Bailey and Emi Buendia.
Perhaps the most surprising news this week came in the form that Carney Chukwuemeka is reportedly planning to not sign a new deal.
The highly rated midfielder, just 18, is apparently frustrated by a lack of first team opportunities. Eagle eyed fans also noted that Chukwuemeka briefly appeared in the midweek Under-23’s squad, before swiftly being pulled from the clubs official account. Coincidence perhaps.
Villa have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of the academy, a system that has consistently under-delivered first team players over a long period. However, in recruiting talent, the club has the challenge of not only developing these youngsters into Premier League regulars, but avoiding a scenario where purchases block their progress into the starting XI.
The Guardian reports that Manchester United, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund are interested parties, although they will have to wait 13 months in order to sign any pre-contract agreement. It’s one to watch, but there is often no smoke without fire.
TORRES & KATSUKUNYA
TRAORE’S TIME UP?
A surprise article from the rumour-mill includes the suggestion that Bertrand Traore may be on his way out of Villa Park.
Though the former Lyon international’s Villa career has been decidedly inconsistent due to performances and injury, we have seen enough to suggest he’ll be of value to the team.
The big money signing has only been at the club for a couple of seasons and when in form poses a different threat for opposition sides.
This proposed deparrture is one to take with a pinch of salt, with the piece featuring an infamous “un-named source” as the in the know insider…