The return to the Premier League for Aston Villa hasn’t exactly gone to plan so far, although most Villains will tell you that it was to be fully expected. It’s a tough league; Villa are rebuilding and looking to establish themselves as a Premier League force once again. In Dean Smith, the club has an astute manager but one who lacks experience at the top level.
The signs aren’t completely doom and gloom, though. Villa are, slowly but surely, improving. Recent acquisition Mbwana Samatta has made a decent first impression. That, alongside the always reliable and easily the club’s best player in Jack Grealish, gives encouragement. In terms of the Premier League betting predictions though, it’ll probably be another season of struggles next campaign, but stay up again, keep shrewdly adding to the squad, and give Dean Smith time to build a Premier League side, and there’s no reason why a club the size of Villa shouldn’t be doing what the likes of Leicester, Wolves, Sheffield United and Burnley have done this season and in previous campaigns.
One area where Villa certainly need to improve on, though, is in the goals department. The side is one of the lowest scoring in the division, with Wesley failing to deliver following his big-money move from Club Brugge in particular. The defence is another huge concern, with a whole host of sloppy goals conceded this campaign. Essentially, there’s a distinct lack of quality in key areas all over the pitch.
So, with that in mind – and with the summer window on the horizon – we thought we’d go through a few potential targets for Dean Smith.
One of the best target men in the country, Aleksandar Mitrovic has established himself as a firm fan favourite at Fulham, scoring 34 goals in 71 games. Should Fulham fail to win promotion to the Premier League, a number of sides are expected to sound them out over Mitrovic.
Villa lacks a target man, especially one with an eye for goal in the mould of Mitrovic. Perhaps deemed a slight gamble to some given his failures at Newcastle, although there’s no doubting that he’s improved a great deal since then.
The Chelsea striker has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge ever since Frank Lampard’s arrival as manager but nothing has materialised yet. The likes of Inter Milan have been linked with the World Cup winner in the recent past, but Giroud’s desire to stay in England could stand the Villains in good stead. It would be some coup, though.
A number of times this season, Aston Villa have looked exposed in the full-back areas. With 101 successful tackles, Nottingham Forest right-back Matty Cash has made the most in the Championship this season. One of the standout performers in the division this campaign and at the age of just 22, Cash could be on the radar.
Jake Cooper has been linked with a move to the club in the past, with the towering centre back having caught the eye of Dean Smith following a string of impressive displays for Millwall. At 6 ft 6 1⁄2 in, he’d certainly be the commanding presence Villa have lacked alongside Tyrone Mings all campaign.
Daniel Sturridge has been repeatedly linked with a move to the club in recent seasons. A return to Villa, where he started out in the academy, could certainly appeal to both the club and player after having his contract terminated at Trabzonspor. His Premier League credentials are there for all to see.