This season must be considered a success for Villa after narrowly avoiding relegation last season. Every one of last summers signings have made a positive impact enabling their rise up the table. The club will of course want to push on again next season but it may be prudent to strengthen the squad in general rather than looking for upgrades for your starting 11.
It’s been nearly 3 years since Dean Smith left Brentford so his little black book of Bees transfer targets will be diminishing if not now empty. Players from his tenure are few and far between now too but if Brentford do not go up then a man who followed him from Walsall to West London, Rico Henry could be a target to spice up the left hand side options. A major question though is Smith capable of taking Villa to the next level? Any bad spell of form or results next season could be his undoing at his boyhood club.
Contracts expiring this summer are for squad players like Heaton or Taylor. The core of the side are tied down for the next few years so unless someone is firmly out of favour or funds are needed for reinvestment it is purely a squad building exercise. The only player who could bring in a reasonable fee is Douglas Luiz. He is listed as a DM but hardly shows any elite traits for that position. Due to his age, nationality and fact he’s played in the PL could mean he commands a fee of £30m+. If the scouts at Villa Park are worth their job titles then a replacement could be found at a quarter of that fee.
The temptation to try and make Ross Barkley's loan permanent should be ignored, he’s mainly been injured and despite some fleeting positive moments he would cost too much via fee and wages. Bringing in someone else on loan would make more sense while potentially investing in a young player to push hard for the attacking role Barkley has held for forthcoming years. Creativity mainly comes from Grealish the complimentary associate role needs to be a player with 10 esq ability, pace, strength, stamina and lightening speed of mind. Almiron at Newcastle ticks a few of the boxes, he could potentially be available for a loan/obligation to buy, it depends on his standing at St James Park and if they’ve had enough.
The defence already holds no depth so if the ideology of squad strengthening is adopted this position group could and should see at least 4 new players come in to build competition. If your looking at like for like recruitment then the costs can be managed at a reasonable level. The skill set of the back 4 now is the full backs who should be athletic with a touch of attacking flair & centre backs who are strong and committed, ball skills not a must need. Upgrades would cost too much in this current climate. As mentioned before Henry of Brentford could be an addition to the left hand side but with Ryan Bertrand being available on a free he would be a great signing, either at left back or left centre back. Chambers of Arsenal has a year on his deal, his fee would not be a bank breaker plus he would be able to cover a few roles. Gary Cahill would be a intriguing signing, another player who’s contract runs out this summer, his age does not scream starter but what a player to be able to call upon, the fact he started his career at a Villa could help.
Playing it safe with signings this summer is not exciting but could help maintain Aston Villa’s PL standing for the long term before embarking on a expensive drive like last summer.