No Jessie J, it’s not all about the money. Aston Villa spent wisely this window, making a number of signings and releasing members of the infamous ‘bomb squad’.
Many would say Luna, others would say Okore and many more would consider the extension of Christian Benteke’s contract as the signing of the summer.
The story begins on the 7th June: news had broken that Villa were about to make their first signing of the summer window. Rumours of a winger coming to Villa were rife and Bulgarian winger Aleksandar Tonev moved from Lech Poznan, for a fee of around £2.5 million. This would set the tone for how manager Paul Lambert would play out the rest of the transfer window.
On 13th June, Villa continued recruiting players early as they signed both Jores Okore of Nordsjælland and Leandro Bacuna from Groningen. Jores Okore would have previously been known to many as the player who stood out when Nordsjælland played Chelsea in the Champions League. The young Danish defender also shocked fans, admitting he had the chance to join the London club in the winter window of the 2012-13 season but he refused due to the lack of first team action he thought he would receive at Chelsea. The opportunity to join up with Villa’s young, hungry lions and to play a big part in Lambert’s plans was an offer he could not refuse.
Bacuna’s arrival took many by surprise as it was just a few hours before the deal was announced that news was breaking elsewhere of Bacuna’s imminent arrival at Villa.
Another of Villa’s signings was confirmed five days later, as Nicklas Helenius signed a three-year deal from Danish club AaB, where he scored 40 goals in 102 appearances.
This was followed by the completion of their fifth signing with left-back Antonio Luna (AKA Tony Moon) sealing a move from Sevilla on 20th June.
On 26th June, the Villa announced they had agreed a deal to sign goalkeeper Jed Steer. This would see Jed come in as back-up to first-choice Brad Guzan. The 20-year-old completed a free transfer on 1st July.
On the final day of the summer window, Villa made what would be their final signing in Czech forward Libor Kozák, who was the top scorer in the 2012–13 Europa League. He joined from Lazio on a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee, rumoured to be at least €7 million, with €2 million in bonuses.
Tekkers was bad, very bad
With news and rumours spreading like wild fire, many Villa fans wanted star forward Christain Benteke to sign a new deal with the Midlands outfit. Rumours posted by certain ‘In The Knows’ stated that Benteke was set to sign a new deal once he had returned from his holiday in Vegas but nobody saw what happened next coming.
On 8th July 2013, Benteke handed in a transfer request. Many did not see this coming and this led to questions that Villa fans were not getting any responses for. Why did Benteke want to leave Villa? Many media sources, including former Villa player Stan Collymore, speculated that Benteke had indeed been tapped up by Tottenham Hotspur. Many of Spurs’ fans and ITKs posted on social media sites and forums that Benteke had in fact been to Spurs’ training ground with fellow Belgian Nacer Chadli.
Villa insisted the striker would not be allowed to leave unless the price was right. Speaking to head of media, Brian Doogan, Brian told me that the price was £30 million but even that would be the minimum that Villa would consider before allowing any discussions to happen. Rumour has it that Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, had enquired about the 6 foot 3 Belgian but felt that Benteke’s value was considerably less than that of Villa’s £30 million valuation. However, 19th July (my birthday) not only saw Matthew Lowton sign a new deal until 2017 but also saw Benteke withdraw his transfer request, after talks with manager Paul Lambert. He then signed a new four-year contract with the club. This on its own became many of the Villa faithful’s signing of the window.
Bye-bye to the Bomb Squad
Not only did Villa spend well in the transfer window, they also got rid of the infamous bomb squad members. One of the first to leave would be Jean Makoun, as Stade Rennais made his loan move from the previous season permanent on 30th March 2013.
On 5th June, Villa released a number of players, including Richard Dunne, Eric Lichaj and Andy Marshall, as their contracts had expired and were not renewed with Villa. Four academy players – Callum Barrett, Daniel Devine, Josh Barton and Courtney Cameron – were also released.
Simon Dawkins returned to Tottenham Hotspur after his loan had finished.
On 22nd June, Brett Holman’s contract was terminated by mutual consent, enabling the player to join UAE team Al Nasr.
Young defender Derrick Williams became a Bristol City player, after turning down a new deal with Villa.
Record signing Darren Bent joined Fulham on an initial season-long loan, which would see Villa receive a substantial fee (rumoured to be round £2 million, with a £3 million option to buy) and see Bent’s wages paid by the London club.
Nathan Delfouneso re-joined Blackpool on loan, until 1st January.
On deadline day, Barry Bannan left the club after nine years to join Crystal Palace for an undisclosed fee (rumoured to be around £1.75 million on a three-year deal) and Stephen Ireland joined Stoke City on a season-long loan, which signalled the end of the Irishman’s time at Villa due to him only having one year remaining on his £65,000 per week contract.
So, what can we say?
Well, it’s a no-brainier really and our very own Adam Williams summed it but perfectly with ‘B+’. In my time supporting this wonderful club, I have never known Villa to buy anyone before the 1st of July, let alone have six players in before our season began. Tony Moon looks a bargain for £1.5 million, Okore looks a complete beast and how Lambert convinced Benteke to stay is beyond me. The club’s overall spending this summer came to just over £13 million and a large sum of money was removed from the club’s wage bill.
Yes, credit has to go to Paul Lambert – he’s the manager of the club and runs it from top to bottom. But credit also has to go to Paul Faulkner. Yes, I know, I have previously slammed Faulkner, especially over the club’s dealings with the whole McLeish appointment and I publicly posted my letter to him via this site. But, my god, this man has done wonders for our club behind the scenes, pulling off big deals with big names and also helping Paul Lambert seal those deals with the help of the staff at Villa. Faulkner is a businessman and as such he knows how to run things; with each passing day he is winning a lot of Villa fans over.
I would also like to take this opportunity, publicly, to apologise to Paul Faulkner for my actions in the past and I want to thank him and all his staff for providing our club with a very bright future.
With Faulkner and Lambert steering the good ship Aston Villa into a new era for the club, I can safely say that we are in good hands.