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Solving that dilemma and blanking Man United’s calls – Aston Villa’s January transfer window priorities

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After spending well over £100m and bringing in 12 new faces, the summer transfer window was one of the busiest and most exciting in Aston Villa’s recent history.

The transfer committee of manager Dean Smith, Sporting Director Jesus Garcia Pitarch and Chief Executive Christian Purslow – went about rebuilding the side that earned the most surprising of Championship promotions.

Those changes have reaped benefits, in their opening 12 games of the season, Villa have rarely looked a side plying their trade at a level above their means. Valiant performances against Spurs, Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool inspired much hope, but unfortunately 0 points.

With under two months to go until Sky Sports News reset their countdowns and fans plan their visits to stand outside stadia up and down the land, we take a look at some of the priorities of Villa’s January window.

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Help out Wesley

When Wesley Moraes was finally unveiled as Aston Villa’s record buy, it felt as if the main issue of the summer window had been solved.

With the loss of Tammy Abraham, Smith knew he needed to replace the goals scored by the man that is now pulling up trees at Stamford Bridge.

But as most promoted sides do, Villa took a gamble with Wesley. The Brazilian had only played in traditionally weaker leagues, his most recent playing time coming in Belgium with Club Brugge.

(Image: Getty Images)

In his fledgling claret and blue career, the 22-year-old already divides the fan base like few players in the squad do. A dozen games into his spell he has four goals and one assist. But all too often he goes from the sublime to the anonymous and the lack of depth behind him means it is an area Smith must once again invest in.

Asked whether he would be looking at striking reinforcements, the Villa boss said: “Possibly. Simply because Keinan Davis has a hamstring injury at the moment so he’s one who is out.

 

“We’ve got young Wesley who is playing his first Premier League campaign, like a few others are, so we will just have to wait and see until January.

“I’m always open to additions to better the squad. They’ve got to be better than what you’ve got. A conversation myself, Christian and Suso have had when we’re looking at additions is they’ve got to be better than what we’ve already got.”

As is always the case in the January ‘sales’ the buying club will always have to pay a premium to get their man. The whole country knows that Villa need help in the goal scoring department and they will have to pay.

This purchase isn’t necessarily to replace Wesley, we are still far too early to be writing off a man who will be with the Brazil squad this week. But he needs to have the burden eased on him and a January addition should go a long way to doing that.

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Don’t pick up the phone

In a perfect world, Villa will line up for their first game in February with Jack Grealish, John McGinn behind a brand new, shiny striker. But getting to the end of January with their squad completely in tact may be more difficult than that.

McGinn’s links with Manchester United have been rumoured since the summer, the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson has earmarked the Villa talisman is an unwelcome addition.

(Image: Getty Images)

Bobby Jenks, the scout that brought the Scotland international to Villa, feels it is almost certain that Sir Alex will be nudging decision makers at Old Trafford: “What I do know is that Sir Alex Ferguson is wondering why Manchester United let a talented Scottish boy slip through. He’ll be keeping a close eye on him that’s for sure and if he continues the way he is, you can bet he’ll be telling his pals at United, too.”

His lucrative new deal from the start of the season, twinned with his impressive Premier League season form, mean any suitor will have to pay a pretty penny for the man that came to Villa for less than £3m a year and a half ago.

 

Unfortunately for Villa, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have shown a penchant for overspending to get their man, so Villa need to remain steadfast and not put any valuation on one of their most influential players.

If McGinn’s links to United seem easy, then Grealish’s links to anyone in the top four are even simpler.

Why would any team chasing European football not want the man that has taken to the Premier League with such aplomb? However, you feel that if Villa were to part with their skipper, the fee would need to be astronomical. Whether teams are willing to make that statement for a player still (somehow) uncapped by his country remains to be seen.

 

Difficult decisions

At the time of writing, there are three players who will be out of contract at the end of this season, meaning that some big and difficult decisions may need to be made in the coming weeks.

Jonathan Kodjia, James Chester and Keinan Davis could all leave the club next summer for free, should they decide that their future’s lie elsewhere.

The three Aston Villa players out of contract at the end of the season

At this point, it appears unlikely that Smith is willing to give up on Davis, a player that has given him a selection headache in the early weeks of the season. He has performed well in liimited opportunities and his injury has heightened the need for a striker purchase in January. Earlier this season there were suggestions that Villa were willing to offer the 21-year-old a new deal and that seems the most likely outcome.

With Chester, a lot depends on whether he can rediscover the fitness and form that made him a mainstay during the early part of his Villa tenure. He quite literally sacrificed his body for the claret and blue cause and that commitment cannot be underestimated. Whether he eventually leaves on a free next summer, Chester has earned the right to spend the second half of the season fighting for a place in the heart of Villa’s defence.

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If the first two appear likely to stay, then Kodjia’s future is a great deal more uncertain. The Ivorian has struggled to find a place under Dean Smith’s stewardship and a number of frustrating injuries have limited his chances so far this term.

He seems the most saleable asset of the three and with links to the Far East, the former Bristol City forward may want the chance to boost his own personal coffers. If Villa do manage to bring in a new striker to compliment Wesley, you have to feel ‘Jimmy Danger’s’ spell at the club will be coming to an end.

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