With the confetti resting on the pitch of the Etihad and the sticky champagne being rinsed from the locker room, the Premier League season is finally over. Over the coming months, clubs will spend fortunes in order to fulfill their dreams in the richest league. One club that has gotten a jump on all their competitors is Aston Villa who are having an excellent offseason.
Aston Villa’s season was truly a mixed bag, as the club did well enough but clearly did not achieve the goals of management and ownership. So far, a little more than a week after the end of the season, Villa have come out in full force with their transfers.
While the transfer window doesn’t open until July, clubs are welcome to agree fees with both clubs and players with the deals finalized in July. There was never any doubt that Villa wouldn’t permanently sign Coutinho, but their next two moves have been incredible. Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara are two players who could be at home in the top five sides in the Prem.
This has led many to wonder what are Villa’s expectations for next season and the future in general given their transfers and results last season. Villa are clearly aiming to join the group of Wolves, Leicester and West Ham as the clubs fighting for the final European spots every season. Gerrard has to elevate the team in order to match West Ham, who are the best of the rest in the Prem.
A great start to their transfer window has been characterized by the signing of two excellent talents in Carlos and Kamara. Despite their moves, the question still remains, is the club ready to take the next step and challenge for Europe?
The Coutinho transfer was always going to happen, and it gives us all a chance to collectively laugh at Barca, but their next two transfer came out of nowhere. Two top performers in tough leagues who were highly sought after decided to don the famous Villa kit despite other offers.
Diego Carlos is a veteran of both La Liga and European competitions, becoming a mainstay in a great Sevilla side and regarded as one of the best defenders in the league. Carlos is an excellent defender who has consistently become a better tackler, but he has been outshined by Jules Koundé. One area were Carlos will transform the backline is his passing ability, as he was one of the best passers from the backline in Spain.
Carlos’ fit in the Villa side is obvious, as Tyrone Mings desperately needs a better partner than Arsenal reject Calum Chambers. Villa had the 20th worst defense last season, so they’re in desperate need of defensive reinforcements and Carlos is no Chambers. He should fit in perfectly into the Prem with his elite mix of defensive prowess and his ability to play make from deep.
While Carlos is an incredible signing on his own, Boubacar Kamara may be the better signing long term, as the French international has the potential to be a great Prem midfielder. Kamara started his career at Marseille playing as center back, meaning that he has excellent defensive positioning. As he continued to develop, his passing ability allowed him to move further up the pitch.
Kamara’s flexibility was on display in his final seasons with Marseille as he can play in the heart of the defense and midfield. Given his defensive and passing abilites, Kamara is best suited to play as a defensive midfielder where he can help cover the backline and move the ball forward. With him only being 22, there is so much time for him to grow and Villa may make quite the profit on him later.
Two incredible transfers have highlighted Villa’s interesting transfer window and there is plenty of time for them to continue to add pieces. Carlos and Kamara have the ability and potential to elevate this Villa side to the level that management and ownership clearly desire.
Villa entered last season with the team seemingly bouncing back from the Jack Grealish transfer with some decent transfers. Despite the positive additions, Villa failed to reach the top half and it seems that those running the club are refusing to see the club finish in the bottom half again.
On paper a 14th place finish after losing the club’s best performer could have been seen as a positive, but Villa invested a lot into the squad. Gerrard has done a good job at stabilizing the club, but he needs more quality to elevate the club further. With the players brought in thus far this summer, ownership has seemingly made it clear that the only acceptable option is a challenge for Europe.
The clubs that Villa will want to emulate are West Ham and Wolves, two clubs who have consistently been able to finish in the top half and occasionally get a European spot. Both sides have a similar transfer policy and budget to Villa, so Villa doesn’t have to keep up with the Jonses per say. West Ham and Wolves have a mixture of prospects that could be flipped for profit with veteran players who are at home in the Prem.
With some of the teams above them becoming weaker, especially Leicester, it’s the perfect time for Villa to aim higher. The Prem is the most volatile and least predictable league, so Villa should feel positive about their chances to challenge for a European spot. Their summer signings are better moves than Leicester has made in a few seasons and should allow Villa to finish around them.
On the flip side, Leeds is clearly the cautionary tale for a club that wanted to rush the process and ended up almost getting relegated. Leeds ended up overextending themselves last season, as their signings failed for the most part and Bielsa’s system collapsed in on itself. Villa will look to avoid this by ensuring that Gerrard doesn’t try to do too much and find the players ready for his system.
While there are some clubs that finished above them getting weaker, the majority of the clubs that finished directly above them are certainly going to get better. Newcastle, funded by an ungodly amount of money, will likely continue their fine form that made them one of the best sides in the second half of the year. Brighton and Palace are also likely to get better as their respective managers will continue to develop their sides.
Villa are entering an interesting period in the club’s current era where they need to elevate their club in order to avoid sliding back into the Championship. For every example that Villa could follow, there are plenty of clubs that have tried to do what Villa is attempting and fell on their face.
The summer transfer window is always the most exciting part of the offseason where the hopes and dreams of fans can either be expanded upon or destroyed by a single move. Villa’s most recent two signings have been filling the minds of their fans, as they see a club with high ambitions. Now, Villa will enter an interesting offseason where they must evolve or face slipping back into irrelevancy.
Featured image: BBC