Aston Villa are set for a rebuild this summer and with the owners amongst the richest in the Premier League, what will the ambitions of this summer’s rebuild really be?
The quality of the signings involved will give us an indication of what the ambitions of owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens are. Is the next step for Villa getting into the Europa League? Or are Sawiris and Edens going to aim straight for the bigger prize of the Champions League?
If a signal of intent in a more advanced way was required, it came recently with the confirmation that the Claret and Blue have permanently signed Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho screams Champions League, not Europa League, and certainly not mid-table mediocrity.
Aston Villa is delighted to announce the permanent signing of Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona for an undisclosed fee! 🙌
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) May 12, 2022
While on the subject of Coutinho, his former Liverpool teammates are in the final of the Champions League on 28th May. Liverpool are the favourites and priced at odds of 11/10 on the exchanges according to the latest Champions League best odds. Both Real Madrid and the draw are available at the same price of 14/5.
If that is the level Villa is aiming for, then they will need to sign more than just Coutinho. As good as strikers Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings are, it’s hard to envisage Bayern Munich head-hunting either in the event of Robert Lewandowski leaving this summer.
Similar can be said for most of the defence, and the likes of Jacob Ramsey and John McGinn in the midfield department. They’re good players, but maybe a level or so below the Champions League. Signing Champions League quality players takes time, and Steven Gerrard and Co may need patience. Coutinho is clearly a step in the right direction, but he won’t make the difference on his own.
Official, confirmed. Philippe Coutinho joins Aston Villa on a permanent deal from Barcelona for €20m. 🚨🤝 #AVFC
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 12, 2022
It could be that in order to grow, Gerrard has to make do with a James Ward-Prowse style of signing, as the likes of Pedri won’t be leaving Barcelona, or Foden won’t be coming from Manchester City, any time soon.
Last summer Villa had a bid for James Ward-Prowse rejected, so would going back in for the Southampton dead-ball specialist signify lower expectations? Or does signing a player at that level simply represent where Villa are at the moment, while also improving the side?
Steady progress is required, like what happened at Manchester City. Ten years ago they didn’t go out and cherry-pick the world’s top players, just because they had rich owners. The world’s top players wouldn’t have gone there en masse back then. They waited until the club had grown, and now they would all be beating a path to City’s door, as has been shown with the recent signing of Erling Haaland.
Those same rules apply to Aston Villa, and now Newcastle United as well. Steady growth is required, and that might require signings that don’t shout Champions League. But what Manchester City have shown the likes of Aston Villa is what can be achieved if the club’s hierarchy is patient and develop the team at the right pace.