With the new year comes the opportunity for football clubs to buy, sell or loan players to improve results going into the second half of the season. We review Aston Villa’s January transfer dealings.
For Aston Villa, promotion is key this season, but with FFP restrictions, the opportunity to purchase players this January transfer window was small. However, the Villans still made a few key moves in the window as Steve Bruce looked to strengthen his side.
In this piece, I’ll be looking at who left the club, who joined and what that all means for Villa.
Ritchie De Last (loan) to Royal Antwerp
The best option for both club and player, with Ritchie finding game time hard to come by under Steve Bruce and coming back from last season’s serious injury. He could be a long-term player at the club, having come from a Premier League side in Leicester City.
Having said that, the future is unclear for the right back as he has played in the Premier League before, but was never really able to establish himself in a starting XI. By returning to Belgium, he is returning to the club where he started his career looking to regain form. He remains contracted to Aston Villa next season.
Aaron Tshibola (loan) to Kilmarnock
Having seen very limited time under Bruce, Aaron has been sent back out on loan, this time to Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock. Aaron had his loan at League One side MK Dons terminated six months early after a string of disappointing performances.
The main positive for the young midfielder moving to Scotland is the fact that he will be reunited with former manager Steve Clarke who he played under at Reading. It’s hard to see Aaron having a future at Villa considering he has seen little first-team action.
However, if he can regain some form then he could still have a chance to reboot his career at Villa Park when he returns.
Tommy Elphick (loan) to Reading
This is the most interesting move that happened to a Villa player this January. For Tommy, it’s been well publicized that he wants first-team football. He would have gotten that at Reading, but he went off with what looked to be a potentially serious injury in his debut.
In the 2017/18 EFL Championship season, Tommy has been in the matchday squad on nine occasions. Unfortunately for him, he has only played in four games, one of those off the bench. It’s not surprising he hasn’t had much game time though, with John Terry and James Chester performing so well at the centre back positions.
The fact that Bruce decided to loan out Tommy means he must have plans for him in the future.
Tommy will come back to the club, and with Terry getting older, the former Bournemouth defender could see more game time in an Aston Villa shirt.
Harry McKirdy (loan) to Crewe Alexandra
Young and exciting prospect Harry McKirdy has been loaned out to Crewe Alexandra in League Two.
The 20-year-old striker has moved to the Cheshire based club to gain some valuable first-team experience. Harry signed a contract extension in October last year to remain at Villa Park until at least 2019, but whether he has a long-term future at the club remains to be seen.
He is certainly one to keep an eye on, and hopefully, he can get some valuable experience as he aims to keep Crewe up in League Two.
Easah Suliman (loan) to Grimsby Town
Another promising youngster who left Aston Villa to go out on loan and gain some crucial game time, Easah joins The Mariners for the remainder of the League Two season.
Easah is one of the numerous exciting prospects at Aston Villa. The 20-year-old centre back will be hoping this experience will see him challenge for a starting position next season. Unfortunately for Easah, he has only made one appearance in all competitions for Aston Villa this season. He played in the second round of the EFL Cup against Wigan.
However, many fans have been calling for Bruce to give the England youth star a go in the first team. His chance will hopefully come soon, with his time at Grimsby Town potentially guiding his way to a bright future. He was not named in the eighteen for Grimsby Town over the weekend.
Axel Tuanzebe (loan) from Manchester United
Aston Villa’s worst kept transfer secret, this move seemed guaranteed a couple of days before it was actually confirmed. Also, Aston Villa’s best bit of business during the window. Axel Tuanzebe has come with a lot of expectation but is an exciting youngster who is versatile.
Axel can play in numerous positions, in central defensive midfield, centre back and right back. This gives Bruce plenty of cover but also gives reason to why De Laet and Elphick were loaned out. Another England youth player, Axel will be hoping for plenty of game time at Villa.
Let’s hope the Manchester United academy graduate can make a positive impact at Villa when called upon. Tuanzebe made his Aston Villa debut on Saturday, playing right fullback for the final 25 minutes or so.
Lewis Grabban (loan) from Bournemouth
A good signing as back up for Scott Hogan if he gets injured, or for competition in the striker position. Grabban has experience in the Championship and could play a pivotal role if called upon.
He joins Villa from Bournemouth but had been on loan at struggling Sunderland, where he scored 12 goals. This particular signing seems like cover and competition for Hogan at the moment, so can’t see anything developing out of this in the future.
Filip Marschall (unknown) from Cambridge City Under-15
A transfer that was not really reported on because it’s a youth signing. However, Aston Villa have a history of having a very good youth academy. Filip has now joined the Villa and the young goalkeeper will hope his development will continue with great resources around him. Keep an eye out for this young keeper in the coming years, Villa fans.
Ross McCormack (returning from loan) Melbourne City
The Scottish striker has returned from his loan with Melbourne City in the A-League.
Personally, I thought he would have been given a chance by Bruce. However, the signing of Grabban suggests otherwise, and it looks like Ross’ career with Aston Villa is coming to an end. Expect to see him leave in the summer.
If I was to give a rating for the winter transfer window, it would be a C. Overall, it was a low-key transfer window for Aston Villa compared to previous seasons. Bruce knew what he wanted to do, and got his business wrapped up.
Extra cover for numerous positions will aid Aston Villa’s bid for promotion. Allowing some fringe players the chance to get first team football is positive looking into the future for the club.