Is Wayne Bridge headed to Villa Park? (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
The Telegraph is reporting that a deal is in place that would bring the Manchester City and former England international to Villa Park on loan through the end of the season at £90,000 per week. At the moment the only other sources reporting the deal as done are relaying the Telegraph's story, so take this with a grain of salt; the Telegraph isn't the Sun or the Mirror, but it's hardly the BBC either.
There are a few reasons this makes sense for Villa. Left back is certainly a position in dire need of an upgrade and Bridge is most certainly a sizable upgrade over the empty shell that once contained Stephen Warnock.Bridge is not the player he once was but he's still quite good and seeing as how he'd be gone at the end of the year and would cost nothing in terms of transfer fees there's minimal risk. He's not blocking any of the younger players in the long-term and any time you can turn a position of weakness into one of relative strength it's something that must be considered.
On the other hand, there are reasons why this doesn't make sense for Villa, or perhaps more accurately there's one very big reason; £90,000 a week is a whole lot of money and given the fact that the wage bill has been cited as one of the reasons Villa weren't active in the summer transfer market it seems a rather odd reversal of course to devote such a great deal of resources to an older player. And while left back is a position that needs to be improved upon there's the opportunity cost involved; if Bridge is brought in to fill the need the chance to land a younger player on a permanent basis during the January window is lost. That's not necessarily the worst thing in the world as the January window is notorious for providing less than optimal return on investment and the better bet to make significant improvement is during the summer, but it is something to consider.
It's difficult to offer an opinion on this move without greater context. If Lerner is willing to throw a bit more money at impact signings such as this in order to bolster the squad's chances of staying up without it further impacting the club's ability to bring in longer-term solutions then it's hard to find fault; it's not my money after all. But if the wage hit makes Bridge the only impact signing of the window, it's the wrong move. No one should expect any miracles in January; prices are inflated, teams are reluctant to part with good young players and many of those that clubs are seeking to move are unwanted by their club for legitimate reason. Consider the players Villa are rumored to be moving, for example. At the same time, Villa need help at several spots and it would be foolish to overspend on one player to the detriment of the their ability to improve the rest of the squad. There probably isn't a player of Bridge's quality on the market, but if the money saved by making a lesser upgrade at left back allows the club to upgrade at striker and/or defensive midfield the total improvement to the team would most likely be greater.
Wayne Bridge is a fine player and one that I'd love to have at Villa Park should the circumstances be favorable. But he's not the answer to all of our problems.