Darren Bent was here. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
We've only got a few days left in what has been a thoroughly transfixing January transfer window. We've, thus far, seen Aston Villa bring in two big names, Jean Makoun and Darren Bent. In addition, we've gotten defender Kyle Walker on loan. If the window closed today, no one could accuse Randy Lerner or Gérard Houllier of sitting on their hands.
But I also don't think that Villa have covered all of the spots they needed to in this window. We could still certainly use some help on the defensive side of things, and plenty of fans want to see a solid playmaker brought in. So it's with this in mind that we decided on this week's Friday Feedback question. Below, you'll find what we think Villa are likely to do in the coming few days, and hopefully you'll leave your ideas in the comments.
This week's question: What other moves do you expect Villa to make before the January transfer window closes?
Aaron: I think there's a decent enough chance that the club won't make any other moves this January (at least in terms of bringing players in) to be honest. Villa have already spent somewhere between £24M-£30M over the span of 20 days and while I don't think Lerner is anywhere near tapped out and there are still holes to fill, I don't think they're in a position where they absolutely must make any upgrades to see them through the rest of the year. Over the summer I see shoring up the back and maybe bringing in high-quality players at LB and CB as a necessity if the club wants to get back to competing for the Champions League places, but players like that come at a premium in January. If the goal for this season is to survive then Villa probably had the players to do comfortably before bringing in Bent and Makoun and you've got to think they're well prepared to do so now.
But again, all of that is nothing more than a hunch. And of course there are the aforementioned holes; LB is the most obvious, and another creative playmaker in the middle would be wonderful. To be comfortable that you won't have to change things up too drastically should an injury or suspension occur you'd like at least two players capable of stepping in to each role and aside from Barry Bannan, Villa don't have anyone really prepared to fill that position (which is vital to Gerard Houllier's style of play and important if you wish to get the best out of Darren Bent) without weakening the squad elsewhere. The problem of course as that left backs and playmaking mids are both pretty expensive positions to fill and it's tough to imagine Villa doing anything else splashy this window. So while I would not at all be surprised to see those positions filled, I would be surprised if they were filled by anything other than young, unproven players (my preference, obviously) or veteran stop-gaps (which would also be fine given the circumstances.) Aside from that, there aren't really other positions on the pitch where we could see major upgrades without significant investment, so if any players outside of the areas of need are brought in I'd expect them to be prospects. Villa have a tremendous youth system as we all know, but you can never have too many young players and there are positions at the lower levels that aren't as strong in their depth as others, most notably central defense, forward and goalkeeper.
Gareth: So, I feel like everyone's going to say "left back" because Stephen Warnock is probably on his way out. And even if he's staying, we'll need someone to at least rotate with him because he's been bad too often to be starting regularly. But I'm going to leave that one for someone else and say Villa will eventually end up with Charlie Adam.
At the same time, I'm still reluctant to bring in midfielders as I fear for my Barry Bannan. I don't want young midfielders standing in his way. Even though I'm convinced that we have no need to play Stiliyan Petrov and Nigel Reo-Coker at the same time, I still see no way of playing Petrov, Bannan, Johnson, Downing, Albrighton, Young, Agbonlahor and Bent all at the same time. Because a two-man defense just ain't gonna cut it.