Steven Gerrard could be interested in a number of players from Premier League teams who may be relegated this season.
The business end of the Premier League season is fast approaching. And on looking at the table, it is reasonable to assume that every team between 15th and 20th is at risk of spending next season in the Championship.
As a result, plenty of talented players are likely to be heading for the second tier – unless they make a move themselves this summer.
And an Aston Villa team likely to undergo a serious revamp under new manager Steven Gerrard this summer, could take advantage of the situation by targeting those who are good to enough to remain in the top-flight.
So which players from relegated-threatened sides could Gerrard target at the end of the campaign? We have taken a look at four candidates…
Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United)
Villa’s pursuit of a central midfielder was obvious in the January transfer window. They moved for Yves Bissouma and Rodrigo Bentancur – who ended up at Tottenham Hotspur – while Arsenal attempted to land Douglas Luiz.
Luiz remained at Villa Park, but a move could transpire in the near future, and Kalvin Phillips could be a perfect replacement if Leeds United are unable to avoid relegation under new boss Jesse Marsch.
Phillips is a full England international, and he’s also homegrown. Still just 26 years-old, he is entering the prime years for a central midfielder.
With a contract which is due to expire in two years, Phillips could be attainable – and Villa are known admirers. He’s aggressive, capable in possession and versatile, having played as a centre-back, a holding midfielder and a box-to-box midfielder in recent seasons.
Rico Henry (Brentford)
Villa upgraded their left-back department in January by signing Lucas Digne from Everton, but Matt Targett consequently joined Newcastle United on loan.
The Toon have expressed an interest in keeping Targett beyond this season, which could force Villa into sourcing an option for Digne in the transfer market, especially with Ashley Young now aged 36.
Brentford’s Rico Henry could be a solution. Still just 24 years-old, he’s thrived as a left wing-back for the Bees this season, and his contract is due to expire next year, which should bring down his price.
Henry is English and possesses homegrown status, and he’s naturally offensive-minded having scored two Premier League goals this season. As a rotation option for Digne, Henry could be ideal.
Raphinha (Leeds United)
Gerrard has a healthy selection of attackers at his disposal at the moment but that could change.
Philippe Coutinho is impressing on loan at Villa Park, but it remains to be seen whether the club have the funds to meet his anticipated wage demands to seal a permanent deal.
Raphinha is a player who could be a cheaper option for Villa if Coutinho proves too expensive – or even as a teammate. He’s 25 years-old, which is prime age, and has just two years left on his contract.
He’s quick, direct, creative, proven in the Premier League, and is also left-footed, which is a valuable asset.
No player at Elland Road has registered more goals or assists than Raphinha this season, and if he is relegated he could be acquired for less than his true worth.
Gerrard has already raided Everton for Digne, but he could return in the summer to land Richarlison.
Frank Lampard’s men are just one point clear of the relegation zone, so a drop out of the top-flight is a very real possibility.
If the Blues do go down, Richarlison will have plenty of suitors. He hasn’t quite fulfilled his potential at Goodison Park, but his level is high and his contract expires in two years.
Still just 24, the Brazilian has plenty of time to reach his best. He’s aggressive, strong in the air and difficult to defend against, but his versatility could be most useful.
Richarlison is a flexible forward who would be able to occupy any of the offensive roles in Gerrard’s favoured system, having gained experience as a striker and a wide forward for Everton. The South American could be a great pick up for Villa.