We are halfway through the January transfer window and the rumour mill is in full swing as clubs look to improve their squads for the rest of the season. Aston Villa have been one of the standout teams in the Premier League this season and most would say that squad depth is the main thing that the Midlands-based side will be looking to add in January
The main position that Dean Smith will want to look at this transfer window to provide Matt Targett with some competition. Targett is one of five Villa players to have played all 15 league games this season. With a congested season, squad depth is going to be important to maintain good form for the rest of the season.
Former Villa man, Jordan Amavi, would be a good option to bring in. He has made nine appearances for Marseille this season, scoring one goal. He has only six months remaining on his contract meaning he would be available on a free transfer in the summer. An offer around £10 million could tempt OM and Andre Villas-Boas into cutting their loses and selling Amavi back to the midlands after four years.
He would provide excellent cover for Matt Targett and would also be more than capable of starting games in the Premier League.
One of the more obscure transfer rumours this window has been former Tottenham star, Christian Eriksen, being linked to Villa on loan. The Danish star has fallen out of favour with Antonio Conte, despite only joining Inter a year ago. So far this season he has made nine appearances, mostly off the bench, and has made little impact on the highflying Inter starting eleven.
Despite his poor club form, the two time Spurs player of the year has been exceptional for Denmark in International games. He has received man of the match in three of the seven games he has played scoring four goals in the Nations League.
He has lots of quality to bring to any team including free kicks and superb ability with the ball but with the way Dean Smith is building his side, this signing would be very different to the direction Johan Lange looks to be taking the club with recent transfers.
This signing is more appropriate for the current vision of the board. Michael Olise is a 19-year-old midfielder, who can also play on the wing, who is currently at Reading in the Championship. He has been one of the standout performers in the league this season scoring four goals and getting eight assists in 22 games, averaging a goal just over every one and a half games.
Reading manager Veljko Paunovic has confirmed that Olise has an £8 million release clause in his contract. This would be a no brainer signing for any Premier League side given his exploits this season so far. Squad depth is exactly what Dean Smith will be looking for to improve his side and Olise fits the profile of player that Lange and the board will be wanting to sign.
At £8 million there is no reason why this deal can not be completed by Villa and by signing the 19-year-old, the attacking options at Smith's disposal will be up there with the best in the league.
A player that was strongly linked in the summer transfer window is Milot Rashica, a winger or second striker with no goals or assists in only five games this season. Despite this, he has quality with 18 goals and 10 assists in his previous three seasons combined.
He is definitely on the radar of Aston Villa with strong links between Rashica and the Midlands in 2020. He would be sure to add depth across the front line being able to play anywhere and do a good job. The only issue with this signing would be price. The Werder Bremen talisman is only 24 and he has a year and a half remaining on his contract. The likelihood is that he would cost over £30 million in this transfer window which would likely put off any suitors in this transfer window.
I don't think this deal will be done in this transfer window but this time next year, Rashica will have six months left on his deal meaning he would be available on a free or a cut-price deal which may be a better option for Villa, especially given financial issues surrounding football and Covid-19.
With Wesley being out injured for well over a year, and a lack of goals for Keinan Davis in the last few seasons, Dean Smith may want to bring in a striker to provide added competition for Ollie Watkins despite having a great start to life for Villa and in the Premier League.
Josh King could be a good option for multiple reasons. He has plenty of Premier League experience from his time at Bournemouth where he has been for nearly six years. In 170 appearances he has scored 48 goals which is a good record considering a lack of chances he would have got at a relegated threatened side. He will add competition as well as versatility as he would be adequate in any position in the behind the striker as well as playing up front himself.
Another player with a contract expiring in the summer, King would be available for a potential fee of around £5 million, or a free transfer in the summer. He would be a good edition and for a cheap cost and on a short contract he would come with very little risk and lots of experience to add to the squad.
All these players would add quality and depth to Dean Smith's side and would enable a potential push for a Europa League spot. The only issue this season has been squad depth and added experience and quality would help Villa to improve, but it isn't the be-all and end-all with the side already being high in quality at present.
Amavi and Olise make the most sense to sign this January as they provide exactly what Villa need in order to improve their squad. Amavi would be available for a cut-price due to his contract running down and Olise has a very reasonable release clause in his contract. This all means the Villa owners can spend potentially less than 20 or £25 million this window and secure the signings of two high quality players.