With 12 outgoings, 10 incomings, and more expected, it’s been a busy summer for Aston Villa Football Club.
The majority of the players who have left were deemed to be surplus to requirement, or unable to perform at the standards necessary to play weekly in the Premier League, and therefore have seen themselves land in lower divisions, or abroad.
Others such as Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke are huge losses to the club, and it will be argued that they are impossible to replace, regardless of the funds received.
That being said, Villa have been shrewd in their business. Venturing into the French league in order to recruit talent at a much more reasonable price than that which would be found in the Premier League is a prime example of this.
Saturday’s 0-1 away win against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium was the first chance for fans to see these new arrivals play a competitive game in the colours of Aston Villa. Seven of the new signings made an appearance in the aforementioned game, and here are my first impressions.
After a turbulent couple of years, many will forget that Micah Richards is a Premier League winner, with 179 appearances in the top flight of English football. That experience was on show during Saturday’s game, and it’s clear to see why Sherwood has made him the on-field captain. Villa have potentially signed a player in his prime, and if Richards can manage to stay injury-free, this could be one of the deals of the summer.
Amavi is already a fan favourite, and it’s clear to see why. Left-back has been a problem area for Villa ever since Wilfred Bouma left the club back in 2010, but it seems like the French U21 international has come to the rescue. He was solid in defence, racking up an impressive five interceptions, but it was going forward where the former Nice man impressed. His incredible pace and crossing ability will see him cause teams real problems throughout the season.
Idrissa “Gana” Gueye
The man who was seemingly bought to replace Fabian Delph, and it’s easy to see why, due to his similar stature, and a similar playing style (not to mention his tendency to fire off a wayward shot). He grew into the second half, looking solid in possession, and he was unlucky not to score.
Veretout was tipped by many to be the player that fans should be most excited about when he signed his five-year-deal. The midfielder starred alongside Paul Pogbia and Geoffrey Kondogbia in France’s U20 World Cup win, but Saturday seemed like it came slightly too soon for the player. He lacked fitness after signing just days before, and it’s clear that it will take him time to adapt to English football, as it will with many of these new acquisitions.
Sinclair joined Villa on loan in January, and impressed during this spell. The transfer was then automatically made permanent when Villa secured safety, so this is technically a Paul Lambert signing. However, Sherwood will be pleased to have the former Man City man on board. Sometimes he can look a little indecisive when on the ball, but during Saturday’s game, he put a real shift in defensively, as Sherwood’s plan to kill off the game in the first-half played out perfectly.
Ayew was signed with a reputation of being inconsistent, but the promise of being great. Saturday saw what I hope will be one of the few weak showings from the French forward. He saw very little of the ball, and as was the case with Sinclair, he was tasked with offering defensive support to his full-back.
Filling the boots of Christian Benteke would’ve been a massive job for any player, let alone one making the jump from Championship to Premier League, but Gestede seems right at home in the top division. His impact on the game was huge, and his winning goal made for a practically flawless debut. Sherwood credited Gestede as being one of the best headers of the ball he’s ever seen in English football, which is a big shout seeing as the manager spent time alongside Alan Shearer at Blackburn Rovers. His hold-up play is also superb, and I look forward to seeing him gain familiarity with those playing around him.
Overall, it was a solid showing from the majority of the new signings. Amavi and Gueye already look right at home in the Premier League, and I expect big things from the likes of Veretout and Ayew as the gain match fitness and adapt to the way English football is played.