I don’t need to tell you how fickle football fans are. One weekend we will love our club, players and manager while the next we don’t. It is part and parcel of football.
There is no secret that this summer, Villa are looking to offload some of the deadwood within the squad as Steven Gerrard puts his own stamp on this side but that doesn’t mean we can’t thank some of those for their time at the club.
The club are looking to progress at a quick rate meaning there was always going to be a big turnover of players during the transitions. This doesn’t mean they are bad players, it just means they were the right players and at the right time.
Matt Targett confirmed his £15million move to Newcastle United earlier this week following a successful loan spell. The left-back was signed from Southampton in 2019 for a fee believed to be in the region of £13million and went on to play 89 times for Villa, scoring 3 goals.
Despite a slow start, Targett soon settled at Villa Park, forming a great relationship with Jack Grealish who also departed last summer. During the 2020-21 season, he was the only outfield player to start all 38 Premier League games and was voted Players’ Player of the Season.
When Gerrard was appointed, it was clear very quickly that Targett wouldn’t fit into the way the new manager wanted to play and once Lucas Digne was signed, he was loaned out to Newcastle. Regardless of the rumours, we don’t actually know the true story behind his departure but one thing is for sure, Targett was the right player for us at the right time.
He was part of the team that not only helped us survive in the Premier League but helped us establish ourselves once again. I for one thank him for that.
Anwar El Ghazi
Anwar El Ghazi signed for Villa in the same summer as Targett, following a successful loan spell the year before. The Dutch winger cost Villa in the region of £8million and has experienced his ups and downs since being at the club.
We all remember the famous ‘red card’ at Leeds where El Ghazi was wrongly sent off by referee Stuart Attwell. His three-match ban was quickly rescinded and Patrick Bamford was instead banned for two matches for successful deception of a match official.
El Ghazi played 119 games for Aston Villa scoring 26 and assisting 11 during his time. He scored the winning goal in the Playoff Final victory over Derby County at Wembley. The winger also experienced bad times when he came off social media when he was abused by a small section of Villa fans for a string of poor performances.
The former Ajax player was sent out on loan to Everton in January as he struggled to make an impact under Gerrard. Unlike Targett, it is not expected that El Ghazi will sign permanently for Everton but he is expected to depart this summer.
Just like Targett, El Ghazi has contributed to where Villa are right now. By now you will see what I am getting at, the club are just outgrowing these players. It doesn’t mean we can’t thank them for their contributions.
Others will also leave this summer. Trézéguet is being linked with a move to Turkey following a successful loan spell with İstanbul Başakşehir. Keinan Davis, Frederick Guilbert and Bertrand Traore are just other names who have all played a part in where we are at now.
Conor Hourihane was rightly praised and thanked once his departure was made official on Friday. I just hope we can be classy enough to thank others who will depart for the part they have played as Villa have established themselves back in the Premier League.