Signing full-backs should be Villa’s main priority this summer.
If any transfer business is to be completed in the coming months, the main concern has to be strengthening both the left- and right-back positions. With the club seemingly in “lock down” mode in terms of any tranfer deals being concluded until a new owner is found, Villa fans could see the majority of deals being finished closer to, if not on, deadline day, with the exception of free agents.
Ryan Bertrand occupied the left-back position for the majority of last season. The twenty-four-year-old has now returned to his parent club, Chelsea, and a potential deal to sign the Champions League winner seems to have failed to materialse, with Liverpool now linked with him.
Bertrand was a class above our current full-backs – Lowton, Bennett, Luna and Alan Hutton. In my opinion, only one of these players is capable enough of playing to standard required in the Premier League and that is Lowton (on a good day).
During his first season with Villa, Lowton showed that he is capable of occupying the right-back position in the near future. Leaving aside the mediocrity of last season, I still think Lowton is good enough for the side and if not he would be good cover if a new defender were to come in. Having just turned twenty-five, the defender is in an important phase of his career and a solid performance next season is needed in order to really prove himself to the Villa faithful.
Antonio Luna was one of Lambert’s summer signings last year and Villa fans thought they were on to a winner after brilliant performances throughout the pre-season campaign and during the first few games of last season. Having acquired the nickname Tony Moon, Luna looked as though he could fill the left-back position following his brilliant goal against Arsenal. However, this was not the case and Luna proved that he can be a real liability in defence, with positioning being the main issue, due to the Spaniard continuously bombing down the line and being caught out.
There is very little I need to see about Bennett and Hutton. Lambert has been trying to get rid of Hutton since last summer and the sooner he goes the better. Not only is Hutton not good enough, he is on a hefty wage while offering nothing to the club. As for Joe Bennett, he is no longer considered a youngster at twenty-four years of age. I hear many Villa fans pleading for Bennett to be given another chance. How many more chances will he need to keep on failing to impress? It’s time for both Hutton and Bennett to leave the club.
One other option – and a man who was used last season in the right-back position – is Leandro Bacuna. In my opinion, Bacuna is a much better player going forward than he defensively. He is very similar to Antonio Luna: when put in defence, his positioning is questionable at times. Lambert should stick to using Bacuna on the wing and not as an option in defence.
We have strengthened our centre-back and attacking options with the free signings of Senderos and Joe Cole so now it’s time to sort out one of our weakest areas before the new season begins.