We’re just four days into the January transfer window yet Aston Villa’s business appears to be in overdrive given the relentless reports involving possible ins and outs.
Gerard Deulofeu, Ismaila Sarr and Samuel Chukwueze are understood to be on Villa’s radar while the likes of Frederic Guilbert, Marvelous Nakamba and Morgan Sanson could well depart this month.
Just yesterday, talkSPORT also stated that Villa are open to allow Danny Ings to leave in order to pave the way for a new centre-forward to come in and bolster Unai Emery’s options in attack.
Avfc statto: I presume there will be a lot of focus on bringing in specific players that Emery needs to improve the squad but, with it being so bloated, are some of the priorities to move certain players on, even if we lose money on the deal? Thinking Sanson, Guilbert, Nakamba etc…
Ashley says: Yeah, 100 per cent. Emery has spoken to players he’s looking to move out without naming names to the media. I think they’re pretty obvious given who has and who hasn’t had game time. I can see all three you’ve mentioned moved on this month. Interestingly Emery has said that he isn’t happy with some of the options he has in certain positions… need more in attack, perhaps.
C1874: Can’t believe how organised we look, every player knows their role. Emery is a tactical magician, it was great to see him outsmart Conte who is an elite manager himself. The players that came in the second half gave their all but Kamara is one of the bargains of the century. Absolutely colossal in the middle! Would be very happy if we get Sarr or Deulofeu…
Ashley says: Players executed that to the letter. McGinn spoke to the media afterwards and you can just tell the players are so impressed with the manager. They’re doing everything that’s asked of them. Kamara, incredible. I asked Emery about him after the match and his initial smile told you everything. Yep, Sarr/Deulofeu both on the list. Deulofeu worked with Emery at Sevilla and he’s bang in form and has been for a while at Udinese. Looking around £17m for that to happen.
LolaBarny123: Sarr is injured a lot of the time and hasn’t really set the Championship on fire. I think there’s a lot better out there…
Ashley says: His price is continuing to come down given he has 18 months left on his deal now. Watford are keen to cash in. 6 goals and 4 assists isn’t too bad from his 20 appearances this season. He’ll be better with better players around him and, for me, offers something different to what Villa have. As mentioned before, Lange likes him so it’ll be up to Emery who’ll no doubt watch some clips of him while Villa will have had scouts at Sarr’s recent matches.
Torindan: I can’t see Joao Felix wanting to come to us (yet) – even with Emery being a great pull. I would imagine him only wanting Champions League football. Do you see any chance at all of us signing him?
Ashley says: Those in and around Villa’s hierarchy believe Felix still *could* happen but, for me, I seriously doubt it. It’d be quite something, wouldn’t it. But stranger things have happened before. You also can’t underestimate the relations between Felix’s agent Jorge Mendes, Emery and Nassef Sawiris. I still can’t see it. It looks like it’ll drag out all month. Man United have been put off by the £££ package while reports have also suggested Felix could end up signing a new deal at Atletico.
Pikey22: Positive start to 2023, some good results so far in Emery’s tenure against teams that we were not expected to win against. It will be interesting to see how we do in the next 5 games where the expectations will be higher. Can’t see there being too many incoming this month unless it’s players who have previously played under Unai and already understand his style which, I think, is the reason Cash isn’t back in yet.
What’s the reason for attacking the Holte End in the first half? Was it a conscious decision?
Ashley says: Beating your Uniteds and Tottenhams have always been a real issue and Emery’s come in and done the business. It’s these next few now, like you say, against those below us, starting with Wolves tomorrow, a side we haven’t beaten in a PL home game since 2003. Be huge to back up Spurs win with another vs Wolves, think of the momentum that will carry – plus getting through against Stevenage then we’re bouncing into Leeds and Southampton. Great point you make about players Emery knows… 100 per cent. There’s been no real left-field shouts other than Felix which is down to Jorge Mendes. The strong links have involved players who have worked with UE before such as Jackson, Deulofeu etc. Kicking towards the Holte was something the players liked after battering Brentford in the manner in which they did. Against Liverpool, though, Liverpool won the toss and opted to change ends with Buendia kicking off. I’ll chase more clarity on that, mate. Interesting point.
AaronT77: It’s been a happy new year so far – I normally like to be cautiously optimistic about things but feel, under Emery, we could see something special over the rest of the season and beyond! The tactical and organisational transformation on the pitch has been superb and he has not yet brought in players to fit his identity! We look so much better defensively and still dangerous in attack!
How advanced are Villa’s plans for the transfer window and, if you could put money on one player being the first signing, who would it be? Additionally, I believe he will take the cup seriously but do you expect to see a strong line up vs Stevenage or will he be using some of the younger players?
Ashley says: Yep, this is the same bunch of players that were absolutely hopeless at Fulham, what, just 6 PL games ago. Turnaround has been stark! How advanced – that was a question put to Emery on Sunday. Talks still ongoing. First signing based on what I’ve been hearing, Deulofeu from Udinese for less than £20m. Worked with UE before and knows what will be asked of him. Let’s see. Stevenage, yes, strong. It’s a cup Villa want to win. Emery loves cups!
Eladio: How is Villa’s financial situation for this market and the next one? Can Villa continue investing “big amounts of money” in transfers or are there no funds? I want the first signing to be Deulofeu in a quick move…
Ashley says: Villa’s finances are sound. It wasn’t a huge summer, around £24m net spent by Gerrard. And yep, Deulofeu could well be the first one given last week’s information that came to light.
Vfl: Just wanted your opinion on whether you think there will be a huge signing in this window? I.e. the sort that makes you think how the hell have we got him!
Ashley says: I’ve often said it’ll be a fine-tuning month with 2 or 3 added and 2 or 3 moved on with the emphasis on quality players who will thrive in Emery’s way of playing. That could change, though, should Villa kick on and be close to those European spots the closer we get to the transfer deadline. NSWE want to give this a right go now. Villa have stood still for the past few seasons, it’s kick-on time. In terms of a how-the-hell-have-we-got-him signing; Joao Felix looked like that one but can’t see that happening now. It all depends how hard NSWE want to back Emery this month in terms of a ‘Grade A’ signing.
Trentaus: I’m a big Villa fan from Australia and I’m hopefully coming to England in April to watch Villa. When’s the best time to get tickets for those games in April? Also what option do you think will be better/likely Sarr or Gerard Deulofeu? Can’t see us getting a striker this Jan transfer window, most likely summer window. I reckon Ings will be gone and maybe Watkins will turn into more of a winger… just not clinical enough in front of goal but love the rest of his game…
Ashley says: Tickets – always tickets available. Think there’s 2,000 left for Wolves. I’d get in with some Aston Villa supporter clubs if you can to grab tickets – the Bedford Lions or Bromsgrove Lions. Drop the Villa ticket office an email as well, they might help you out given you’re travelling from the other end of the world! I’d say Deulofeu the most-likely as things stand given there’s a direct connection there between the player and Emery. Sarr will be a Lange signing if that comes off. I’d like them both! Ings will have 12 months remaining on his deal at the end of this season so it could be a good time to cash in, perhaps. Watkins was outstanding at Tottenham, such a menace, just needs to find that ruthless streak in front of goal. Goals for Villa in a season: 14, 11 while, this season, it’s 3 from 16 games… I think he’ll reach double figures again, all being well.
Hazavfc: Any news on Ismaila Sarr?
Ashley says: Sarr. He has remained on Villa’s list after the initial deal back in late August broke down. No update on him, though, but one Villa will look to sign if the price is right this month.
DBS1983: Any news on where Dendonker was the other night (didn’t see any reports of him being injured) and wasn’t on the bench? Also, has there been any more investigation into the redevelopment? I know planning permission was granted and tentative dates mentioned but I’m sure Purslow mentioned that transport infrastructure was a prerequisite for expansion and that has been very quiet… assuming planning permission approval doesn’t cover transport expansion, too.
Ashley says: Dendoncker, no news on him after he missed the squad. The press conferences have been so brief of late given the quick turnaround in matches. I’m only allowed one post and pre match and didn’t ask about Dendoncker. Sorry! I do believe he’s got a knock, though, and is a doubt vs Wolves. As for stadium plans. Building work will start after the World Supercross Championships on July 1. The transport/Witton railway station are the most-important bits from it now. There’s been no update issued from the West Midlands Combined Authority who are working with Villa on this. I’ll speak with Andy Street to see what plans are in the pipeline to develop Witton Station and surrounding roads. I’ll chase this mate.
Irish_Villan: Any news on what’s up with Jacob Ramsey? No real mention about injury or when he’ll be back!
Ashley says: Jacob Ramsey a big doubt vs Wolves. Can’t see him making it, at least not starting. We could see him vs Stevenage. Tough to say at this moment.
CraigM1981: Firstly, Sky Sports annoying commentators, not praising us just saying Spurs were rubbish, but always seems to be the same. Secondly, any updates on any of the Villarreal players linked or even Thuram? Think we are in need of that goal poacher! Ollie’s good but not an out-and-out striker!
Ashley says: I know mate, always the way with the top 6 bias. Look at the other night, Brentford were brilliant but it was all about how bad Liverpool were. Chukwueze and Jackson… let’s see re those but Deulofeu seems the one at the moment. Centre-back Pau Torres, I think, is one for the summer. As for Marcus Thuram, all gone quiet – he’s been linked with every club under the sun. Yep, a proper finisher. Ollie, like you say, has been brilliant and great at pressing/forcing mistakes but need that 15 to 20 goal a season man, an Ivan Toney, for example, to put the ball away. They cost ££££.
DBS1983: Sarr seems to get mentioned a lot but I wonder how much you really rate him? I think if people have watched a lot of Watford this year the player that would’ve caught the eye more would’ve been a certain Mr Davis. Now I say that part in jest as I don’t think he’ll ever get a look in with Villa on the up, but my point is more that I have serious reservations as to whether Sarr is really the ‘sprinkling of stardust’ our squad needs or just another flop waiting to happen… if we’re going to sign attackers from now on, should we not be aiming for elite players to improve the 11 or do you genuinely think Sarr is that player?
Ashley says: A lot of hype, isn’t there, with Sarr. He’s playing down a level at the moment and hasn’t been ripping it up, like you say. I do have my reservations about that one but it’s like everything, you just don’t know how the deal could work out. He’s on Villa’s shortlist for a reason – whether that’s based on the data Lange has seen and is obsessed with, who knows? I wouldn’t be against Sarr coming in providing it made sense £££-wise.
Johnus1964: If Sarr was as good as he’s made out, surely more teams would be interested in him. Any more striker updates? I thought we were outstanding against Spurs, composure, no panic, Kamara… what a player just oozes class, Luiz and him have got a real partnership going. Any updates on the injuries, and more news on Felix? Seen the loan quotes being mentioned, hopefully the same performance against the Wolves. Do you think Emi will be back in goal?
Ashley says: You’re right, why are only Villa being mentioned re Sarr? Let’s see with that one. Unplayable on his day as Matt Targett knows! No new names in the striker frame, sadly. Class vs Spurs, most assured yet for me under Unai. 6-2-2 soak it up then, bang, 2-0, thanks for coming. Injuries: McGinn and Ramsey struggling vs Wolves. Haven’t had an update on Dougie, Dendoncker or Konsa. Diego Carlos back next month all being well. Felix, just can’t see it but stranger things have happened. Vital to back up Spurs win with another W vs Wolves now. B2B wins is what it’s all about. Martinez… yes, I think he’ll be back in but Emery is a stubborn one you know and could keep his faith with Robin! I’d back the manager regardless of the decision he makes. That clean sheet will have filled Olsen with confidence, albeit he didn’t have a fat lot to do.
AVFCRegan: What a fantastic start to the New Year it was at Spurs. I still can’t believe it happened!!! UE I think is the real deal! What an operator he is! And look what he’s getting out of the players! Any news from B6? What’s the latest on transfer targets? Any likely incomings and outgoings? How many signings can we expect to come in? Also, what are the areas of the team does UE want to improve? UTV!
Ashley says: Yep, top, top operator who’s got is sussed. 3 in, 3 out, maybe, Regan. Deulofeu appears to be one at the minute. We’ve had some contact from those close to Udinese. Areas, interesting this as Emery said he wants more in certain areas of the pitch but didn’t expand on his answer. It’s one I’ll ask him the next time I see him.
AVillanFromHolland: What about Cameron Archer? Is he going to Port Vale or are there other options? Who would you like to see coming in this transfer window?
Ashley says: Archer! Will he start against Stevenage? I don’t think he will… Let’s see. Championship clubs are queuing up to take him so I think he’ll head out as soon as a new attacker arrives at Villa. Who would I like to see? Now you’re asking. Ohh, Tammy, Tammy?!
Damo9: Just wanted your thoughts on Bailey because I think for all his talent and ability, he flatters to deceive and, physically, just doesn’t seem up for it and, on the face of things, I don’t think he’s actually much of an improvement on Traore. He doesn’t work back enough and leaves the right-back unprotected. Cash further forward, could we possibly see more of that given his cameo at Spurs?
Ashley says: Bailey… he’s a bit hit and miss, isn’t he. Disappointing in Villa’s last two games but capable of being the match winner on his day and has bags of pace and can beat a man. He needs to improve and to become that little bit more consistent. As for Cash further forward, fascinated by this now given he was Emery’s first port of call on Sunday as Bailey came off and Buendia went up top. Cash could well come in for McGinn vs Wolves and play ahead of Young on the right side. Perhaps Bailey gets dropped, like you say and it’s Watkins and Buendia… Cash and Coutinho out wide? Decisions to be made…