While it may seem that no new arrivals are forthcoming at Aston Villa before the window closes at 11pm on Monday, transfer deadline day can often throw up unexpected moves, and with a weekend off in the Premier League, manager Paul Lambert and his staff have had ample opportunity to consider adding to a squad that has taken three points from three tough opening fixtures.
The Scot has also had plenty of time to work on moves for those who are surplus to requirements. While Darren Bent and Enda Stevens have made loan moves to Fulham and Notts County respectively, Barry Bannan, Shay Given, Alan Hutton, Stephen Ireland and Charles N’Zogbia remain at the club, and time is running out for those players to leave.
But significant activity seems unlikely, with most of the transfer business this summer at Villa having been completed in June. Since then, speculation concerning Villa has been rare, and very few players have been mentioned as possible targets.
Ipswich left-back Aaron Cresswell, and Nuremberg playmaker Hiroshi Kiyotake are two of the players linked, although while deadline day can be unpredictable, the chances of a deal for either are looking increasingly remote.
And that has helped swing the intention to the outcasts. Of the five, N’Zogbia is clearly the most likely to play for the club again, although he has fallen a long way down the pecking order. Hutton and Ireland, on big contracts, look likely to stay put and become rather forgotten, unless suitors can be found in the hours that remain before the deadline.
Of course, for them along with Bannan, there is the option of dropping down to the Championship, once the loan window opens. For Ireland in particular it does not appear inviting, though it might put them back in shop window, while also helping to regain their match fitness.
For Given, a move is crucial for his career. At 37, he needs to have more of a look-in, but other clubs have been put off by his lucrative contract, the most common stumbling block for each of these players. The Irishman has been linked to Liverpool in recent days, as a possible replacement for Brad Jones as understudy to Simon Mignolet. But as first-team opportunities would still be rare at Anfield, the current situation is far from ideal for Given.
Overall, the failure to offload the out-of-favour contingent has so far been the only negative aspect of this summer’s transfer business, as just one sale might have been enough for owner Randy Lerner to fund a major signing, akin to that of talisman Christian Benteke this time last year.
But whatever happens on Monday, Lambert certainly possesses a stronger squad for this season that the one that ended the last. The new signings have all made solid starts to their Villa careers, and ensure that each position is covered. A playmaker would be a vital piece in the jigsaw, but any acquisitions from now would be a pleasant bonus.
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