The summer transfer window will close Tuesday, August 31, and Aston Villa could yet make one more signing before it does.
Manager Dean Smith has said on numerous occasions that he believes Villa’s summer business is finished, though recent reporting in The Athletic suggests the club could make a midfield signing if some lesser-used players went out on loan.
Villa made progress on that front on Monday, when it was announced that Connor Hourihane completed a move to Championship side Sheffield United on a season-long loan.
Additionally, rumors surrounding Frederic Guilbert’s future emerged, with the likes of Fulham and Greece’s Olympiacos believed to be interested. Before the weekend, out-of-form striker Wesley returned to Club Brugge on a season-long loan.
Aston Villa targeted a defensive midfielder all summer long
Smith hoped to strengthen the midfield this summer, and the club was linked heavily with Southampton ace James Ward-Prowse earlier in the window. The free-kick specialist has since inked a new long-term deal with the Saints, pushing Villa to consider other options.
In recent days, the club was linked with U.S. international Weston McKennie and Dortmund’s Axel Witsel. Both ply their trade at high-profile Champions League clubs, making potential moves to Villa less likely.
Villa was reportedly interested in Pape Matar Sarr of Metz in France but the highly-rated defensive midfielder recently joined Spurs before returning to his current club on loan until next summer.
Cheick Doucoure is another rumored target out of France and is still available. The 21-year-old fills Smith’s midfield need–a deep-lying No. 6 that is defensively sound and strong in possession–and currently plies his trade for Lens.
Since Saturday, there’s been talk of Villa’s reported interest in Liverpool’s Curtis Jones, though that link has since been played down. Rob Dorsett of SkySports says Villa are not pursuing Jones and that Smith is “happy with the squad he has, but still has money for a midfielder if a decent deal is forthcoming before tomorrow’s deadline.”
Dean Smith won’t sign a player just for the sake of it
A “decent deal” would conceivably involve a defensive midfielder, and according to Gregg Evans, Villa won’t sign a midfielder just for the sake of it. Jones and McKennie are midfielders that play in more advanced roles, and to overpay for either would be a mistake when you consider the squad’s biggest need right now is a deep-lying pivot.
Anything can happen on Tuesday, but, as of Monday evening, it looks like Villa will stand pat. For anyone claiming the club lacks ambition for not spending all of the Jack Grealish money: remember the squad is deeper this season than last, and funds brought in through the Grealish sale will contribute to the overall financial health of the club.
Douglas Luiz recently returned from international duty and has played well in the No. 6 role in the matches against Newcastle and Brentford. Look for him to continue to hold down that spot in the lineup with Marvelous Nakamba in waiting.
The return of Morgan Sanson will flesh out the midfield corps as well. As it stands, Smith could give important minutes to youngsters Jacob Ramsey and Carney Chukwuemeka this season. That likely would not be the case if another midfielder signed. If the club does indeed stand pat, it would signal Smith’s confidence in Luiz and the two academy products.