Transfer target round-up

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With the winter transfer window in full swing, the column inches are full of all sorts of rumours once again. Some are ridiculous, some are worrying, and only a very small percentage of them will turn out to be true. Here is the lowdown on the names currently doing the rounds.

Sam Johnstone

Our only confirmed signing so far is the Manchester United goalkeeper, who has joined Aston Villa on loan until the end of the season. To be honest, trying to solve the issues with Pierluigi Gollini by bringing in another inexperienced youngster seems like a strange decision to me but an assured performance in the F.A Cup defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday gave me hope that this kid is an indeed an upgrade. Despite conceding twice, neither goals were his fault. He also made some smart saves to keep the score respectable. However, I believe that even a poor goalkeeper has decent shot-stopping abilities. Gollini had no real issues here – and that isn’t the reason the Italian has struggled. For me, a top goalkeeper has much more about him. Whilst Johnstone showed glimpses of his aerial ability, along with the sense to not commit himself early in one-on-one situations, what struck me most is that he seemed to have a confidence and a mental toughness that is clearly sorely lacking in Gollini. Hopefully that confidence won’t be shattered as easily as we have seen with so many before him at Aston Villa.

Henri Lansbury

This is a deal that now seems to be dragging on due to an impending takeover at Nottingham Forest, which should be concluded at some point soon. Many people were impressed with his showing at Villa Park when Forest grabbed a 2-2 draw earlier in the season. The general consensus is that on his day Lansbury is a great player but that those days are few and far between. Lack of form, injuries and suspensions seem to be concerns. Perhaps tellingly, many Forest fans do not seem too upset at the prospect of losing their midfield maestro. However, the sad fact is that, despite all this, Lansbury would still represent an upgrade on both Gary Gardner and Ashley Westwood and provide more of an attacking focus from midfield. It’s a sign of the times when we are pinning our hopes on a player who has shown he does not perform as consistently as he perhaps could do.

Jordan Rhodes

That rumours persist about Rhodes joining Aston Villa Football Club concerns me slightly. He has a good record at this level. So did Rudy Gestede and Ross McMormack. It means nothing if we do not play to suit the player, and we do not play to suit Rhodes. The Scotland international thrives on getting the ball into the box as often as possible, which is a weakness this current Villa side has. By his own admission, his favourite type of goal to score is a scuffed close range header, which tells us everything we need to know. If possible, I would like us to look at other options that could inject some pace into the team and stretch defences more. We have all too often signed players on reputation rather than trying to sign players we can actually use effectively. For me, Rhodes would not be a worthwhile signing, especially for the £10 million fee Middlesbrough Football Club is looking for.

Carl Jenkinson

This one is a no brainer. If Jenkinson is available then a loan until the end of the season should, in theory, suit both parties. Alan Hutton tries, although the quality is obviously lacking. With Ritchie De Laet probably out for the remainder of the season, a stop gap is needed. The right back slot is such a problem for us – and has been for several years. The problem the club is facing is competition from several Premier League clubs. The positive in this is that those clubs are embrolied in relegation fights. Swansea City and Hull City in particular are keen but it is the interest from Crystal Palace that could really scupper the plans for the Villans: Sam Allardyce took Jenkinson on loan to West Ham United and the one time England international did well under his guidance. A drop to the Championship may be too much of a backwards step at this point.

James McCarthy

This rumour is one that seems far fetched to me. McCarthy definitely represents a step up from what we have. Game time has been tough to come by for the industrial midfielder this season and a switch is on the cards. West Bromwich Albion is said to be interested and, as much as it pains me to admit it, would certainly be in the driving seat for his signature. The Toffees splashed out £13 million to bring in McCarthy in 201. While I would think he would be available for a cheaper price than that, it probably wouldn’t be a fire sale so he is perhaps best avoided.

Conor Hourihane

For me, Hourihane is a must buy as he is exactly the sort of player we are missing. The Barnsley captain has been an integral part of the club’s success for the last couple of seasons, weighing in with both goals and assists. This season alone he has five goals and eleven assists. Perhaps even more impressively is the fact that his attacking play doesn’t seem to detract from his defensive duties; he has made seventy-six tackles so far this season. Only one player can boast more than that. The step up from League One hasn’t fazed the Irishman and he has continued his fine form at Championship level and looks capable of going even further. Encouragingly for Aston Villa, Hourihane has just six months left on his existing contract with the Tykes and doesn’t seem in a rush to extend his stay at Oakwell. A move must be made now.

Robbie Brady

A player who seems to have been linked with Villa for a few years now, Brady is currently having a somewhat testing time with Norwich City. Seemingly destined to leave during this transfer window, Brady could feasibly end up at one of ten different clubs if the press is to be believed. Whilst there seems to be an indifference to Brady amongst the Norwich faithful, it is absolutely criminal that he is being used mostly at left back this season. The Canaries are holding out for £12 million, which I personally think is steep. Nevertheless, we are missing a genuine left-sided player to give us balance and I wouldn’t be against a move for Brady.

Stewart Downing

His is a new name doing the rounds. The Middlesbrough boss has apparently said the winger can leave on loan in January. The obvious link to Villa took no time at all to materialise. Whilst some supporters still harbour a dislike of Downing, I think a loan signing would be a great piece of business and a cheaper alternative to Brady at the moment. However, there is talk that there may be a reluctance from Downing to leave his hometown club, especially to drop back down a level. An apparent enquiry during the Rudy Gestede negotiations was reportedly rebuffed on Teeside yet a player now thirty-two years of age cannot afford to be missing out on game time.

Fabian Delph

Let’s put a stop to this silliness right now. Aside from the fact the Delph is still public enemy number one around B6, there is zero chance that his ego would allow him to drop down to the Championship. To be fair, nor should it. Despite the animosity caused by his shambolic and snake-like departure, it cannot be denied that he is still a quality player. Should he leave Manchester City, there will be many Premier League clubs in for him, making this ridiculous rumour a non-starter.

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I'm Alex Othon. I'm 34, a London based Brummie, and a realistic Villa fan. My first game was at Villa Park in 1992 against Crystal Palace. No one was available to take me except my extremely reluctant older sister. We won 3-0, and they had us hooked from that point onwards. Follow me on Twitter @lovespud83 and thanks for reading my articles and leaving any comments.

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