Aston Villa have had a turbulent last 10 years. An American owner that lost interest, to the enigmatic ‘Dr’ Tony Xia, all this lead to a summer of real concern. 2018 is a summer absolutely no Villa fan will ever forget. Genuine fears of losing the club, debt mounting and our “billionaire” owner was nowhere to be seen(besides his endless tweeting). Then in came two legitimate billionaires- Nassef Sawiris and Wed Edens. Since then, it has been improving bit by bit.
Now, Villa enters the season with genuine European aspirations. The signings of Emiliano Buendia and Ashley Young returning add another creative player to compliment Grealish and Watkins, alongside some much-needed experience and cover for both fullback positions. Both are very astute signings, but not quite enough yet.
With only the ever-improving Marvelous Nakamba as the only natural defensive midfielder, and Douglas Luiz preferring a more on the ball presence, Villa could do with one more in that area.
The Brighton man is probably the obvious candidate, however, that also applies to a lot of clubs in the league. He’s got terrific numbers in terms of ball-winning and interceptions, however he’s also very capable on the ball, and helping with carrying it up the park. He would be ideal for Villa, however this one may be a little out of reach.
The Stuttgart Belgian midfielder has impressed year upon year recently. A solid base for any midfield, he also offers the same ball-carrying ability and presence in midfield. Completing 2.65 dribbles per 90, Mangala is pulling elite numbers in. Add to that 2.35 blocks per 90, and nearly 1.79 touches in the opposition box, all shows the combative, yet flexibility in 23-year-old.
Cuhna has been the star man for Hertha in the last season, however, at 22-years-old, a Premier League club is due to come calling. Not necessarily a left-winger, Cunha can play anywhere across the front 3, which would add cover for Watkins and Buendia and as well as being able to join them in the starting line-up.
Tsyhankov is an Israeli born Ukrainian winger, more of an inside forward, playing for Dynamo Kyiv. Tsyhankov tends to be more suited to a right inside forward role, something that could work whilst at Villa. Grealish has filled the left-wing role recently, with Traore filling the right. Both are inverted wingers and prefer to drift infield. Grealish is more suited to a #10 or #8 role, so it leaves Buendia who can play on either side and if Villa went for him, Tsyhankov. He’s got a sweet left foot, and has a fantastic set piece on him, loving to cut inside from the right and create/hit it from distance, loving the 25-yard range.
Can Villa compete for Europe?
This, in my opinion, comes down to if Jack Grealish stays. If he does, yeah, I think Villa might be able to squeeze their way in. The plethora of attacking options is enough to have any defenders worried, and Konsa improving as rapidly as he is, with Mings maturing more every season, Villa look like real contenders for Europe.
However, if Grealish goes, it’s a different story. Villa won’t go down, probably won’t come close to it, however, the jump to a European push may be put on halt. It would be another relatively boring mid-table season for the claret and blue faithful, and that’s not all that bad. Things are looking up at Villa Park at the moment, and unlike this time 2 years ago, the sale of Grealish rip all creativity from the team. It would hurt, it wouldn’t be easy to replace, but Villa is in a much better position to deal with any sale/non-sale of a star player than they have been in a long, long time.
If you liked this article, check out my Twitter for much more @CameronwMMA!
Main Image Credits- Embed from Getty Images