Big changes expected at Villa Park.
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Aston Villa look set for major upheaval in the January transfer window, but Gerard Houllier’s job looks safe for now.
Randy Lerner looks set to back his manager in the transfer market to stave off the threat of relegation, and here are ten potential targets to come to Villa Park.
1. Darren Bent
First on the list of potential signings because his move from Sunderland is yet to be confirmed, Bent will certainly bring goals to Aston Villa. The England striker has scored 81 goals in the last five Premier League seasons – only Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba have scored more with 82 each, but they play for sides with better creative players.
However, after Martin O’Neill left Villa Park reportedly unhappy with his backing in the transfer market, Villa fans are right to be concerned about potential sales to fund Bent’s record transfer.
Ashley Young and Stewart Downing are the most likely departures, with Stephen Warnock also reportedly leaving on loan.
2. Maynor Figueroa
If Warnock does go out on loan, it is former club Liverpool who are likely to be at the front of the queue, with the Reds’ supporters unimpressed by their left back options Paul Konchesky and Fabio Aurelio.
It is expected that Aston Villa will move for Wigan Athletic’s Maynor Figueroa as a replacement, with the Honduran also capable of covering in central defence.
3. Shay Given
Having been a fantastic servant to each club he has played for in the Premier League, Brad Friedel is finally showing signs that the years may be catching up with him at the age of 39. Shay Given is well known to be dissatisfied with his lack of playing time at Manchester City, and if he could improve his communication with his defence, he would be a valuable asset to Villa.
Certainly few in the Premier League can match his phenomenal reflexes.
4. Shaun Wright-Phillips
The signing of Shaun Wright-Phillips would be a curious one for Aston Villa, for Marc Albrighton does not only have pace and skill on the right wing, he also possesses one of the finest crosses in the league. The Villa youngster needs to work on covering his full back, but is in his first Premier League season and can hardly be judged harshly.
Even so, Wright-Phillips would find more game time at Villa Park than he receives at Eastlands and would be a viable backup on either the right or the left, where he has played for both Manchester City and England. While wayward with his crossing and passing, he possesses a powerful shot and is a reasonable dribbler, and with a price tag of around £4m represents decent value.
5. Kyle Walker
Right back Kyle Walker was brought on loan to Aston Villa from Tottenham in January and took just nine minutes to score his first goal for the club. He has not just impressed in attacking areas though.
Walker looks a fine prospect at full back and could fight Martin Kelly for a place in the England side in the coming years. Aston Villa will certainly want to make his deal permanent, but Tottenham Hotspur may be reluctant to sell.
6. Dimitri Payet
Dimitri Payet is a tricky little French winger whose signing could well depend on the futures of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing respectively.
He is quick, skilful and able to spot a pass, which is vital for a player also well versed in a central attacking midfield position.
7. Kim Kallstrom
Gerard Houllier worked with Kim Kallstrom extensively when manager at Lyon and the Sweden international is certainly the kind of cultured midfielder that would fit in well at Houllier’s current club.
Kallstrom possesses two good feet, but it is his left which is extremely deadly – and compares favourably with that of former Villa Park favourite Thomas Hitzlsperger. In fact, Kallstrom once knocked out his international team-mate Andreas Isaksson in training with a strike, and the goalkeepers of the Premier League would certainly be wary.
8. Carlton Cole
Carlton Cole is practically unplayable on his day. The trouble is, there have only been a handful of them. The West Ham and occasionally England striker possesses strength, height and pace, but it is his mentality and finishing that may need to be worked on.
However, if Aston Villa are looking for a like for like replacement for Emile Heskey they could do worse than Carlton Cole, who is hardly a first team regular for the Hammers.
9. Christopher Samba
Blackburn central defender Christopher Samba has certainly attracted some attention in the January transfer window, due to his unenthusiastic reaction to the way new Rovers owners Venky’s Group are running the club.
If Arsenal decide against approaching him, Samba’s next most likely port of call is Aston Villa, where he could certainly fit in well alongside James Collins in defence. Richard Dunne has suffered from a vein of poor form this season, and it is the Republic of Congo international who could take his place.
10. Omar Cummings
Omar Cummings is a Jamaican international forward who has recently been on trial at Villa Park, and could well be an excellent impact player from the bench. Coming from Colorado Rapids, he has impressed Gerard Houllier in training, and is likely to be taken on loan with a view to a cut price signing down the road.
30 goals in 94 appearances for Colorado Rapids are a decent return if not spectacular, and if he can adapt quickly to the Premier League it will be money well spent.
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