'Aston Villa knew they had a chance and they certainly took it': if one could describe Aston Villa’s transfer activity, this would be it. Over the last two seasons, the North London clubs haven’t done well, and at this moment in time, you would replace one of them with Leicester City in the “Big Six” club list. Enter Aston Villa, who wants to become the next club to be the next “Big Six.”
Here is our analysis of Villa’s transfer activity.
Major incoming transfers at Aston Villa:
1. Emiliano Buendia
Aston Villa announced their intentions early this transfer window when they stole Buendia under Arsenal’s clutches for £33m. It was the perfect transfer to announce they were not to be messed with. The Argentine midfielder had been linked with a move to Premier League's big clubs for some time now. Arsenal tried to sign him last January but failed and were hopeful they could do so this summer. Everything was set for the Gunners to get their man in until Aston Villa entered the frame. Buendia will play a crucial role for Aston Villa in the years to come. He will be the main man tasked with replacing the creative gap left by Grealish.
Our rating – A+
2. Ashley Young
The former winger returned to England after his spell with Inter Milan in Italy and winning Serie A last season. It was another transfer where Aston Villa managed to beat off their competition. Young was reportedly close to signing a deal with Watford before Aston Villa snooped in. Even though he is no longer the player that ran up and down the Villa’s flanks scoring worldies, as he once was, he will provide the much-needed experience to Villa players. Now in the twilight of his career, Ashley Young may not kick the ball off the park each week but it could prove a valuable addition to the club.
Our rating – B+
3. Danny Ings
With Danny Ings this summer, a huge opportunity was waiting to be taken, and Aston Villa took it. He had rejected a new contract offer from Southampton and had just entered the final year of his contract. He was available for a knockdown fee and has proven the last two seasons that he has plenty under his belt and can score for fun in this league. All the traditional big six clubs, bar Manchester United, wanted to sign a striker this summer, and why no one took a chance with Ings is beyond me. But their ignorance has proved fruitful for Aston Villa. They paid £25m to sign the player, and just as he did at Southampton, he is now scoring for fun in Villa colors.
Our Rating – A+
4. Leon Bailey
How Aston Villa managed to land Leon Bailey is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong. Aston Villa is a top club and has its own pulling power. But going into the summer, Leon Bailey has looked like a player above their grade. That didn’t scare them to have a go, and it paid off. The Bayer Leverkusen winger has joined the club and will now share the duty of replacing Grealish along with Emi Buendia in Aston Villa’s flanks. If his debut game is a sign of things to come, there is every chance that this could be one of the signings of the season.
Our Rating – A
While they spent all their money in the final third, Aston Villa have also secured Axel Tuanzebe on loan from Manchester United. The defender, who played a crucial role in their promotion season, will wear Aston Villa colors again and hope to make an even bigger impact at the club. He will compete with Tyron Mings, Ezri Konsa and Kortney Hause for a place in the first team. He will hope that the experience at Villa Park will better equip him to fight for a first-team place in United colors next season. In Dean Smith, he has a manager who clearly rates him higher and only positives should come from this transfer.
Our rating - B+
Major transfers out of Aston Villa:
1. Jack Grealish – to Manchester City for £100m -
Let’s be fair, Aston Villa were powerless to keep Jack Grealish. We all knew one of the big clubs was going to come for him. Unfortunately for Aston Villa, it was this summer when they were hoping to have a go at one of the European qualification places. But not everything is gloomy; Aston Villa have just earned a British record fee for the player. Villa have invested it fairly well. Aston Villa are going to miss their captain; but they should have a fairly good say in the goals they have set for themselves this season.
2. Ahmed Elmohamady – Contract expiry
Elmohamady left Aston Villa this summer after his contract expired, ending his 11 years of service in England. A dedicated player who gives his 100 percent whenever called up. Aston Villa fans should remember him fondly for all his contributions to the club, even during the difficult times. What a ride it has been.
3. Tom Heaton – Free Transfer to Manchester United
After losing his first-team place to Emiliano Martinez, it was no surprise that Tom Heaton had decided to leave Aston Villa. Villa’s defense had never looked the same since Martinez arrived, and there was no way Heaton was going to replace him in Aston Villa’s first team any time soon. Now, in the twilight of his career, he has gone back to where it all started at Manchester United.
4. Neil Taylor - Contract expiry
The former Swansea City fullback also left Aston Villa this summer. He is another player who has given everything when he is called up, but the time has come for both the player and the club to move on.
5. Björn Engels – to Royal Antwerp for an undisclosed fee
Unfortunately, it has never worked out for the Belgian at Villa Park. Signed from Reims for €8m, Engels never looked like breaking into Aston Villa’s first team. Thankfully, Royal Antwerp from his home country came forward to sign the player, and Villa got some money for a player who was never going to be a regular at Villa Park.
6. Wesley – on loan at Club Brugge
Wesley was unfortunate with the injury. It has stalled his career. Aston Villa have decided to loan him out to Club Brugge this summer in the hope of revitalizing his career. Wesley, who came in for a massive £22m fee, has only managed to score three goals so far and a move to Club Brugge looks like an intelligent step taken by Villa. It was with Club Brugge that he made his name, and returning to familiar surroundings could help him kickstart his career once again under less pressure.
Overall rating of Aston Villa’s transfer activity – B+
Aston Villa fans will be happy with how the transfer window has turned out. Yes, they have lost Jack Grealish, who has carried the team on his shoulders the last two seasons. But they have invested the money intelligently, with every one of their signings looking to have the potential to be the best signing of the summer. The only drawback to their signings is that all of them have a terrible injury record. But if Aston Villa manage to keep them fit, then this season could see them take the next step in the club’s objective, i.e., push for a European qualification.