Despite improvement under Dean Smith, it is clear that Villa still requires reinforcements in the right areas in January. I am a massive supporter of promoting youth so I have no issues should Smith decide to bring some of the under-23 squad through to the senior squad. Something he has already done when 18-year-old Dominic Revan was on the bench against Middlesbrough. Should he decide to dip his toes into the transfer market in January I believe he should look at Brentford, his former club.
They have three players who I believe could improve our current side.
I will start with Yoann Barbet. The 25-year-old is a left-footed defender who can play either left back or at centre-half. He has predominately played at full-back this season but it gives Smith options and reinforcements in two areas.
He is good at getting forward although his crossing does need to be worked on. It is something we currently lack with Neil Taylor. The French defender’s strengths include interceptions, passing and the ability to keep hold of the ball.
Barbet averages 2.3 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per game. Both better than Taylors when you compared who averages 1.5 tackles and 0.8 interceptions. His clearances (2.4) and blocks (0.4) averages are also better. So the stats would suggest he would be an upgrade on what we currently have if you are stats kind of person.
My next target from Brentford would be Chris Mepham. In my eyes, Mepham seems to be a very good ball-playing centre-half. He would fit into a system that Smith is using and has used with Brentford in the past.
The centre-half has recently got his first caps for Wales so he is starting to get the recognition he deserves. Despite being 21, his passing, tackling and interceptions are all considered strengths of his. If I was to be critical then his heading is something he would need to look at improving. But how does he compare to what we already have?
Mepham averages 1.4 tackles per game which is better than either Villa centre-halves (Tuanzebe 1.2 a.p.g). It doesn’t stop there either because his interception average is also better with 1.6 per game. James Chester does shine when it comes to clearances with an average of 6.5 per game compared to Mepham’s 4.7. Again, he would become a valuable asset with a potential resale value at his age.
My final target from Brentford would be their keeper, Daniel Bentley. Villa have been linked with a move for Burnley keeper Tom Heaton but Bentley could be another option. We have all witnessed Orjan Nyland’s displays. Although there have been recent improvements, I can’t see him being our number one for years to come.
He is another who is already used to Smith’s style of football and requirements. Bentley is known for his shot stopping, long passing and penalty saving. He isn’t afraid to come off his line and command his box when needed – Something Nyland clearly struggles with.
January is just around the corner and Smith will no doubt want to reinforce his side. The target is automatic promotion and he could look to his former side to help aid those ambitions.