Aston Villa are currently fighting tooth and nail at the foot of the Premier League table, and looking to swell their ranks this January as the realistic threat of relegation looms.
Dean Smith’s side spent lavishly in the summer, bringing in no fewer than 12 players, but the Villans are now being made to pay for profligacy as their post-promotion bounce has been stopped in its tracks and they sit perilously in the drop zone.
The recent 6-1 mauling inflicted by Man City on Sunday has only added to the growing sense of foreboding on the Villa Park terraces, and Smith is now likely to turn his attention to the transfer market in search of answers.
The club have already wasted no time in recruiting experienced Premier League duo Danny Drinkwater and Pepe Reina on loan until end of the campaign, but Smith could yet add more signings in his quest for safety. So, how could Villa – who are 8/13* to be relegated this season – look come February 1st?
No Wesley, no problem?
Summer signing Wesley became the latest casualty to a side already afflicted with injury problems when he was stretchered off on New Year’s Day, sparking fervent rumours of Smith dipping his toe in the market for a new marksman.
The likes of Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi have been bandied about, but The Athletic believe Villa want to sign Islam Slimani – who is currently on loan with Monaco – from Leicester City, and also report that the club has been offered the chance to sign former star Christian Benteke from Crystal Palace.
Some fans might wince at the prospect of bringing in a player who has netted just once in two seasons, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Benteke certainly has a style reminiscent of Wesley – and he could potentially pick up from where he left off at Villa Park.
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It is highly unlikely that Smith will pull out all the stops and sign both strikers, but he is almost certain to bring in at least one new No. 9 before the window slams shut.
It was also reported by The Telegraph last month that Villa could look to bring in Chelsea castaway Pedro on a cut-price deal, with the Spaniard’s present deal set to expire at the end of the season, while certain quarters have linked the Birmingham-based club to Croatian World Cup hero Domagoj Vida, who plies his trade at Besiktas.
Both players would prove astute acquisitions as they would add a wealth of experience and elite-level quality to a beleaguered side. Of course, given that Pedro has spent the majority of his career chasing silverware, a relegation battle may not be particularly appealing but the thought of him lining up alongside Jack Grealish will certainly whet the appetite of Villa fans.
It’s certainly looking like an interesting couple of weeks for those of a claret and blue persuasion, and Smith’s side could look like a completely different proposition by the time they face off against Bournemouth at the start of next month.