If the remainder of January continues as the beginning has started, then Aston Villa are in for an eventful transfer window. Manager Dean Smith would undoubtedly like to strengthen a squad which is patchy at best defensively. However, it may be at the other end of the pitch where a gaping hole is left. One name that keeps popping up is Brentford’s Neil Maupay.
Rumours are gathering pace that Tammy Abraham will be announced as a Wolverhampton Wanderers player at any moment. The very latest at the time of writing is that the decision on whether to leave is very much in the strikers own hands. Everyone is currently waiting for the next development in the story.
Exposed by the loan market
Should Abraham quit, it, of course, deprives us of a bang in form goalscorer. And those aren’t easy to come by. The Chelsea loanee is currently the Championship’s joint top scorer with 16 goals so far.
The fact we are so reliant on the loan market is something that always had the potential to bite us on the backside. We’ve wielded the right to recall players ourselves, with Jed Steer and Tommy Elphick returning early from scheduled season-long loans. Abraham is Chelsea’s player and without any clause in the agreement stipulating that the player can’t be recalled. We are powerless.
Attention is already turning to alternatives should Abraham depart. However, I’m not overly keen on what the media is reporting.
Smith’s links to Brentford mean that Maupay, currently having an excellent season with 15 goals to his name, is the obvious replacement according to the hacks. This may be lazy journalism. But if there is any truth in it, I’m not sold on the deal.
Maupay won’t be cheap
Whilst a fee of £6 million is being circulated in the press, the truth is that Brentford extorted nearly £10 million out of us for Scott Hogan. There is no way Maupay, will be sold any cheaper than that. Especially in a January transfer window.
I like Maupay. He’s scoring goals obviously which is a good start. I really like the fact he has a ‘competitive’ streak, shall we say, that makes him a real presence. But there are several issues I have if there is any truth in the links to him
Firstly, as highlighted, the fee will be way too much. Despite now having mega-rich owners and a CEO who helped write the Financial Fair Play rules, surely we still have to abide by the limitations that are set out. We have already spent £7 million on Lovre Kalinic. Our revenue streams are not supportive of spending such sums of money. Have we not learned any lessons from last summer?
Secondly, it will show that Villa’s transfer policy hasn’t changed one iota since being relegated and that we’re still aimlessly targeting people without a real plan. Ever since we have been in the Championship, we have looked at which players are the best in this league. We are then being held to ransom by their clubs when we try and bully them into selling. There has been no thought about how that player will fit into a system. A hefty punt on Maupay would represent exactly the same ideology. Just because a player is scoring goals doesn’t necessarily mean he replicates that form upon a move. Surely we’ve had enough examples of this to understand how things work by now.
Furthermore, if Smith had the nous to pick out players like Hogan and Maupay at Brentford in the first place for small fees, then surely he’d be confident of being able to unearth similar rough diamonds for us. The pro’s for getting Smith in included the fact that he was able to work on a smaller budget and find bargain signings. I’d be disappointed to just see money being thrown around as a solution just because it’s available.
Perhaps most of all we also shouldn’t forget that we already have an extremely capable striker in the ranks in the form of Jonathan Kodjia. Having spent £15 million on the Ivorian, unquestionably it makes sense to utilise him in his favoured position through the middle rather than spending millions more on someone else. Kodjia has proven himself both with us and Bristol City that he can hit around 20 goals a season at this level. He’s done well this season playing in a wide role and has still contributed 6 goals. I’m confident he would bang in goals filling in Abraham’s void.
I would also argue that Hogan would benefit from a run of games also if it came to it. Especially under Smith’s management rather than having to contend with Steve Bruce tactics which clearly didn’t suit him. The club has made a sizeable investment in him and to simply dump him without trying to get the best out of him makes no sense whatsoever.
Keinan Davis is also in an around the first team again after returning after injury. Although the youngster may struggle adding goals to his game and would need to improve to spearhead the attack on a regular basis.
So, we have options already in the squad. With the club’s financial uncertainty always lingering, to go out and spend big money now on what would essentially be a gamble would be ridiculous. The squad needs strengthening more urgently in other areas. Defensively we are a shambles. That is the priority, even if Abraham moves on. If there is money available, it should be spent with some shrewd signings rather than splurging it all on what is likely to be yet another overpriced marquee short-term solution.
If it goes through, it’ll be a shame that Abraham would view a potentially bit-part role at Wolves preferable to seeing out the season at Villa where he will play and score goals regularly. But that is the situation we’re in and being realistic, Premier League football is a massive draw that we cannot offer. Abraham is an England international with a top-flight season under his belt. We were lucky to have him in the first place and you can’t blame him for wanting to test himself at the highest level.
Whatever happens though, Villa mustn’t panic buy a replacement. And for the money, Maupay would be an unnecessary risk in my book.