Matty Cash (def) Nottingham Forest; Lovre Kalinic (gk) Toulouse – end of loan;
Pepe Reina (sp) (gk) Milan – end of loan; James Chester (sp) (def) Stoke – loan made permanent; Danny Drinkwater (sp) (mid) Chelsea – end of loan; Andre Green (mid) released; Borja Baston (att) released; James Bree (def) Luton Twon – loan made permanent;
Despite spending huge sums on transfers after their promotion, Aston Villa were very lucky to avoid immediate relegation last term. Bad luck with serious injuries to main goalkeeper Heaton and starting centre forward Wesley halfway through the campaign were some reason for struggles, but in general Villa failed to live up to the expectations and coach Smith should feel very lucky to still be in charge. It was a mixture of poor defending and ineffective forward actions that brought all the problems, but in the end a bit of luck and some character shown when it mattered most saw Villa saving themselves on the final day of the campaign.
So far the-off-season has been very quiet with no new signings made and no significant departures. That said, Villa’s captain and best player Jack Grealish is almost certain to leave the club soon and replacement for him will have to be signed.
Hard to make predictions about the outlook knowing that significant transfer activity is expected soon, but it’s certain to say that fit-again Heaton will be starting between the posts, while after some crucial goals at the end of last season winger Trezeguet is expected to have a much more important role. Coach Smith used 4-man back line all of last season and he should continue to do so.
The use of the flanks going forward was amongst the main strengths of the team last term and should be again this season. In wingers Trezeguet, El Ghazi and the aggressive full-backs Villa have potential in the wide areas.
Individual defensive errors and ineffective centre forwards seen as the 2 main weaknesses right now. Also once Grealish leaves expected to have shortage of creativity in midfield.
Staying out of trouble is the goal but, once Grealish leaves, it would be hard to replace him and Villa look like a team that will be dangerously close to the bottom 3 once again.