Aston Villa signing James Ward-Prowse was a constant on the back pages of this year’s transfer rumblings.
The Southampton skipper is the prized asset on the south-coast – explained by him penning a five-year deal last week.
Reports earlier this summer stated Villa’s bid of £25 million was rejected by Southampton – who were more eager than ever to keep their main man after the departures of Jannik Vestergaard, Ryan Bertrand, and of course, Danny Ings.
What could’ve been had the saint’s man left St Mary’s for the Holte End?
How much stronger would Villa’s European push be?
Midfield needs, or wants?
In the opening day Watford defeat, Villa’s need for a holding midfielder was glaring.
Marvelous Nakamba looked vulnerable against the pressing hornets front line for all his impressive displays in sporadic games last season and an equally notable pre-season for all his impressive displays. Off the ball, he found it difficult to disrupt attacking moves which lead to Watford having a far greater foothold in the game than Villa should’ve allowed.
Dean Smith since rotated this position. Douglas Luiz on his Olympic return partnered with John McGinn, with Morgan Sanson and Conor Hourihane on the sidelines. Academy graduates like Carney Chukwuemeka and Jacob Ramsey may be deployed here, but are probably preferred in more advanced positions.
Whilst Ward-Prowse would be another option in this area, Villa wanted the England man to unlock a new side to their game.
Ward-Prowse’s play-maker style combined with his ability to dictate tempo is an ability that allows his teams more time and usually more control over the ball.
Such a style is more suited to how Villa are looking to play their game – the signing of Emi Buendia epitomizes this.
The Argentine thrived in a Norwich team which gave him time on the ball and held possession for lengths of the game. Villa may look to do the same to bring out the best of their new additions.
As the club look to push on from an 11th placed finish last year, not just quality, but assertion in midfield may be the next step in developing the team.
Could Ward-Prowse have bridged the gap between European football and mid-table stability?
The end of Villa’s interest?
If Southampton has another disappointing season, I can see Villa returning to the table next summer with another offer.
Despite this, if Villa were to finish this campaign in a European spot, the hierarchy may feel funds are best spent elsewhere.
As Villa well know, signing your captain to a five-year deal still has many pitfalls…