Aston Villa’s poor start to the season has seen one of the league’s first managerial casualties after Dean Smith was given the axe by bosses. Steven Gerrard is poised to become his replacement, and rumours have started to emerge over who he will sign if he is successful in joining the Midlands outfit. Express Sport takes a look at Villa’s new-look XI if Gerrard does indeed join the club.
Many baulked at Villa’s signing of Emiliano Martinez last summer when the Midlands outfit paid Arsenal £20million for him on the back of a handful of good appearances.
But it soon became apparent the north London side were the ones sold short after Martinez became one of the league’s most reliable goalkeepers in his time at Villa.
With much of their form last season owing to Martinez’s heroics, Dean Smith’s side comfortably finished in mid-table and could have finished higher.
And at just 29, there is no reason to replace the Argentina international just yet.
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Defence: Cash, Konsa, Mings, Barisic
Villa’s squad is laden with talent, although not much has been spent on their defensive contingent in comparison to the rest of the side.
Matty Cash and Ezri Konsa joined for fees of around £16million, whilst Tyrone Mings joined for just £20m upon Villa’s promotion in 2019 – which looks relatively cheap given his prominence for England.
Matt Targett is arguably the weak link of their defence, and so Gerrard could look to bring in Croatia and Rangers star Borna Barisic for his set-piece qualities.
And with just 18 months left on his contract, Barisic would represent an excellent but still relatively cheap option for the Villains.
Midfield: Kent, McGinn, Kamara, Buendia, Bailey
Smith’s inability to replace the aura of Jack Grealish is arguably the biggest reason he faced the exit door at Villa.
With Emi Buendia and Leon Bailey unable to hit the heights they are more than capable of, Villa still need more spark.
More directness is needed on the wings, and Rangers’ star man Ryan Kent would certainly offer that with his fearless runs at the heart of the defence.
And with John McGinn and Glen Kamara complimenting him in the engine room of the midfield, the double signing of the Finnish international and Kent would reinvigorate the Villa midfield.
Danny Ings was signed in the summer for a fee of £28m and has hit three goals in nine games at Villa Park before succumbing to injury.
Villa’s 4-5-1 lineup means that it is a toss-up between Ings and Ollie Watkins for the striking role in England’s second city.
With Barisic and Cash’s quality in the cross alongside the pace of Kent and Bailey on the counter-attack, Watkins’ pace and aerial ability should get him the nod over the former Southampton striker.
And at the age of just 25, there is plenty of time for the Torquay-born forward to improve more.