Aston Villa Transfer Focus – Lambert makes Tonev his first summer signing

Since the Premier League season ended on May 19, most of the transfer talk surrounding Aston Villa has been concerned with who may be leaving, especially the increasing speculation about the future of talisman Christian Benteke. However, the club have made their first signing, that of Bulgarian left winger Aleksandar Tonev.

The 23-year-old Tonev, who will join from Polish side Lech Poznan, will add more pace and dynamism to a Villa team which already contains plenty, with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Charles N’Zogbia amongst their ranks. There will be more competition for places and Tonev has shown himself to be an emerging talent, now a member of the Bulgarian national team, receiving 10 caps and scoring three goals.

The success of Villa’s recently retired captain Stiliyan Petrov has been cited by Tonev as a factor in his desire to move to England, along with fellow international teammate Dimitar Berbatov. If Tonev was to enjoy anything like the success of his compatriots, he would surely have an excellent time in England.

Manager Paul Lambert has signed Tonev because not only does he add to Villa’s attacking options, but he fits in well with the club’s style of play and preferred kind of player. Tonev is another hungry young player to join Villa since Lambert took charge last year, and maintains the Scot’s reputation of signing up-and-coming players under 25 in the transfer market.

This signing also suggests that N’Zogbia might be becoming surplus to requirements at Villa Park. The Frenchman has shown little consistency since arriving from Wigan Athletic – where he was outstanding – in 2011. Last season he was reduced to only a semi-regular role in Paul Lambert’s starting line-up, and generally cut a frustrated figure in the claret and blue.

Elsewhere at Villa, the club’s list of who is to leave on a free transfer was announced recently, mainly comprising youngsters including Courtney Cameron and Calum Barrett. Despite this, a couple of members of the first team were told that they could look for new clubs, namely Richard Dunne and Eric Lichaj.

Although he spent a whole season on the sidelines with a persistent groin injury, and he was out of contract, it might still be a surprise to some that Dunne was not kept on due to his vast top level experience and leadership qualities. American Lichaj leaves after never establishing himself in the Aston Villa first team in several years at the club. Fellow defender Nathan Baker is remaining with the team having signed a new deal.

Unsettled goalkeeper Shay Given’s days at Villa appear to be numbered, his exit likely to be confirmed in the coming weeks if another club makes a formal offer. Meanwhile Cameroonian midfielder Jean II Makoun has left to join Rennes on a permanent basis after a thoroughly miserable time at Villa, making only a handful of appearances in two and-a-half years with the club. These developments represent the beginning of Lambert’s preparations for next season as far as his squad is concerned.

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