UPDATE: Baker stays (avfc official)
In the two minutes since I reckoned five players were for the chop amidst all our new signings, Jordan Veretout has signed and Rudy Gestede and Emmanuel Adebayor seem likely to follow.
Veretout seems to be a perfect signing for us at this time. He is billed as having genuine potential, Nantes fans love him, and he seems ready to step up a notch. He should help to fill a snake-shaped hole in midfield. Good business.
But the bigger question is up front where the loss of Benteke caused some pundits to tip us for the drop. Given our near-total recent reliance on the big Belgian, who can blame them? But the club have taken an apparently sensible approach to recruiting replacements.
Gestede looks like a sensible buy to compete with Adebayor and Kozak, and at a reasonable price. We will see if he makes the step up to the top division. At worst, it’s a low-risk punt that asks: ‘is he an upgrade on Kozak?’ Should he turn out to revel in tough, marginal battles with premier league centre halves though, he could be a good signing. He certainly looks like he knows what to do – one of those strikers who understands their position well enough to regularly score scrappy goals on the rebound from six yards due to consistently being in the right areas. I like that.
Meanwhile, a one year loan for Adebayor looks realistic and sensible. Read that sentence again. How does that make sense? And yet it does. At this point in the transfer window it’d probably take Mario Balotelli crashing his Lambo into Villa Park at midnight to surprise us.
With the three big lads to choose from – although I’d fancy Kozak going on loan if both Gestede and Adebayor sign – and Ayew as the other more mobile forward, and with both the midfield and full back positions strengthened, we seem to actually stand a chance of doing some goals. A litmus test of the strength of recent Aston Villa sides is whether Gabby walks into the XI as a first choice striker. If he does, it’s got to be a concern. He does not walk into this one. This may force him to up his game, which will be interesting to watch. He is better than we often credit.
So is it just me, or would a centre back mean we actually have a more or less complete, competitive squad across all departments?
Maybe, just maybe, we aren’t doomed by the loss of Benteke after all. With the new signings we seem to be able to field a team actually able to compete across the pitch, not just by hoping our dominant 20 goal striker is on his game.
What Sherwood thinks our first XI is now is anyone’s guess. But prune Bennett, Tonev, Herd and N’Zogbia from the squad and that leaves, before loans out…
3 keeper options: Guzan, Bunn, and Steer
4 right back options: Richards, Hutton, Bacuna, and Crespo
6 left back options: Amavi, Cissokho, Crespo, Richardson, Baker, and Kinsella (U21)
5 centre back options: Richards, Okore, Clark, Baker, and Senderos
12 midfield options: Grealish, Gueye, Veretout, Westwood, Sinclair, Sanchez, Gil, Richardson, Bacuna, Gardner, Cole, and Calder (U21)
6 striking options: Ayew, Adebayor, Gestede, Agbonlahor, Kozak, and Robinson (U21)