Latest Aston Villa news as Olainfo brings you snippets from Steven Gerrard’s summer transfer shopping list.
A lot, if not all, of Aston Villa’s success next season will be determined by Steven Gerrard’s first summer transfer window. In terms of recruitment, the head coach is far more involved than Dean Smith, whom he succeeded in November.
This summer, Gerrard, 41, wants elite-level players, and he’s been emphasizing that he wants players that can step right into Aston Villa’s starting XI.
The manager has been forthright in his evaluation of his present squad, and indicated how Tyrone Mings’ role as captain will be evaluated ahead of next season a few weeks ago.
Johan Lange, Villa’s sporting director, is gearing up for his fifth transfer window after assisting Gerrard in the January window, which saw the signings of Lucas Digne and Caleb Chambers, as well as the loan signings of Robin Olsen and Philippe Coutinho. Regarding Coutinho, Villa have yet to trigger their £33 million option on the Brazilian, with talks due to begin as the season draws to a close in just over two weeks.
Olainfo understands that six incomings will represent a good window for Villa in the summer, based on the remit and shopping list Gerrard has provided Lange with.
Villa want a new stopper from the back to the front, and they want Olsen to stay. The Sweden No. 1 – who has yet to make an appearance for Villa in the Premier League – has goalkeeping Neil Cutler at Bodymoor Heath. With only a year left on his Roma deal, the 32-year-old will be available for a nominal cost.
Elsewhere, Villa are continuing to keep tabs on Bologna left-back Aaron Hickey, a player known well to set-piece coach Austin MacPhee from their time together at Hearts. Villa do, though, face stiff competition from Arsenal for the highly-rated 19-year-old, scorer of five goals in his 33 Serie A matches this season. A fee for Hickey is expected to be north of £15million. Villa want a new left-back to rival Digne while youngster Ben Chrisene, 18, will be expected to go out on loan.
Gerrard is focused on keeping Villa’s back line together and finding a new center-back. Villa had discussions with German international Matthias Ginter, but the 28-year-old has decided to join Freiburg for the upcoming season. Gerrard and his right-hand man, Michael Beale, are big fans of Liverpool’s out-of-favour centre-back Joe Gomez.
Meanwhile, Gerrard will continue to analyze the futures of existing centre-backs Mings, Ezri Konsa, and Kortney Hause, the latter of whom is still recovering from an injury. If Gerrard is able to sign an A-star centre-back, one of the above players is likely to leave if better offers come in.
Moving into midfield, the manager is looking for a defensive midfielder to start ahead of Marvelous Nakamba and Tim Iroegbunam, as well as a new No.8. Despite outperforming during Gerrard’s first few weeks, Morgan Sanson has fallen out of favor and could be sent out. Gerrard was at Marseille, as we all know, observing Boubacar Kamara, who will be a free agent in July.
The imposing PSV enforcer Ibrahim Sangare is on Villa’s shortlist for a defensive midfielder, but talks have yet to begin. After having a £35 million bid rejected in January, Villa remain interested in Yves Bissouma.
And lastly, up front, with more firepower desired. Villa want to add another experienced goal-getter to their ranks to complement Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings, while Cameron Archer is fully expected to be in the mix given his fine form on loan at Preston. Olainfo learnt that realistic No.9 options are proving difficult at present but that could easily change once the transfer window opens in a little over a month’s time.