Aston Villa squad could remain remarkably similar during Premier League transition

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Aston Villa players celebrate victory following the Sky Bet Championship Play-off Final match between Aston Villa and Derby County at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Aston Villa players celebrate victory following the Sky Bet Championship Play-off Final match between Aston Villa and Derby County at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

Now what? As celebrations continue, Aston Villa senior brass prepare for life in the Premier League. This team that you fell in love with might remain fairly similar through promotion.

Aston Villa’s 2-1 triumph over Derby in the EFL Championship play-off final ensured a 4th-consecutive season in the second division would not happen. Rightfully so, everyone is taking their time to celebrate appropriately after a massive achievement.

The captain seems to be enjoying himself:

Tyrone Mings apparently returned home to Bournemouth in his full Villa kit, medal in hand? I’m so here for it, if true.

However, when the celebrations end and the exit interviews occur, the questions undoubtedly occur.

“What’s next?”


I think Villa likely roll with three senior goalkeepers to start next season. We profiled Jed Steer’s one-year contract extension back in March. Should he earn the continued trust of manager Dean Smith and goalkeeper coach Neil Cutler, a new deal would be in order. Lovre Kalinic was big-money January signing, and although he disappointed in a dozen or so appearances, he still has four years to run on his contract. He’ll be given every opportunity to earn the No. 1 shirt this summer over Steer. Ørjan Nyland will need much of the pre-season to rehabilitate a ruptured achilles injury. Then, it will be up to him to push Steer and Kalinic, or pursue a move elsewhere.

Moreover, if Villa believe in 21-year-old Matija Sarkic long-term, a contract extension and subsequent loan move would do him a world of good.

Likelihood Villa seek transfer help: Low


Should we say hello to James Justin?

Left-back is a position Villa need to pursue in order to provide competition for Neil Taylor and/or Kortney Hause.

Likelihood Villa seek transfer help: Very High


As it stands, James Chester is the only returning senior central defender, and he is still recovering from irreversible knee damage sustained playing for Wales and Villa. Hause, Tyrone Mings, and Axel Tuanzebe each return to their parent clubs, though I suspect Smith to try and acquire all three, perhaps landing two of them on permanent deals (Villa have an option on Hause, and a matching option on Mings). Even then, it’s quite possible, likely even, Villa look for another centre-half looking to make a Premier League move.

Fallback options would include bringing back Tommy Elphick and/or using Fred Guilbert in a central role.

Likelihood Villa seek transfer help: Very High


Guilbert, Elmohamady, Bree in some order (though, yes, James Justin’s best position might just be right-back as well). Bree could be due for another loan move if that happens.

Likelihood Villa seek transfer help: Very Low


Villa are in a really good spot in terms of midfield talent. Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Conor Hourihane will all play their part in the Premier League, but bringing in a new No. 6-type player should be paramount.

Glenn Whelan and Mile Jedinak are out-of-contract. I don’t think either will be brought back, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility one returns on a cheap, one-year extension. Birkir Bjarnason, I imagine, seeks opportunities elsewhere, while Henri Lansbury might as well. But due to his wages, he could be stuck in a Villa reserve role.

Callum O’Hare is an x-factor. He should either spend a full season with Villa’s first-team or be loaned to a Championship club (with fresh contract extension in hand).

Likelihood Villa seek transfer help: No more than a midfielder or two


I suspect Villa will try long and hard for Tammy Abraham. But Chelsea are tough customers, with a need at the striker position, facing a one-year transfer ban. They might put a price on Abraham’s services that no longer interest Villa in a permanent move.

Jonathan Kodjia is an interesting case. He is definitely good enough to be a Premier League No. 2 striker, but he is entering the final year of his deal. Maybe a move back home to Ligue 1 is a possibility? Elsewhere, I suspect Sheffield United to go back in for Scott Hogan in some capacity, leaving Villa with no senior strikers, save Keinan Davis and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.

Next. The Premier League Achieved. dark

Out wide, André Green will continue his development as second, third, or fourth-choice on the wing. Villa might strike a deal for Anwar El Ghazi permanently, bring in a right-winger, and exercise the one-year option (I think?) on Albert Adomah’s contract, bringing the total to four wide players.

Likelihood Villa seek transfer help: High

Early Prediction IN: Hause, Mings, El Ghazi, left-back, centre-back, holding midfielder, right-winger, striker 1, striker 2/outside forward.