WIGAN ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: Gabriel Agbonlahor of Villa celebrates scoring the first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa at the DW Stadium on January 25 2011 in Wigan England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
I'm not sure how much faith I have in this story, but it's not the dumbest thing I've ever read. The Daily Mail is reporting that should Grant Holt end up following his former manager Paul Lambert and make the move from Carrow Road to Villa Park, Gabriel Agbonlahor would be told to seek employment elsewhere. What makes this really interesting is the fact that they speculate Gabby could end up playing under Martin O'Neill at Sunderland.
There's enough logic in this story to make it - at the very least - something to consider. Gabby had his greatest success playing under MON, and Holt obviously would be eager to continue his successful partnership with Lambert. Furthermore, since the departure of MON, Gabby has been pretty hit or miss for Villa, so it wouldn't be the dumbest decision ever to move him to free up some wage space.
But here's the problem: Agbonlahor can still be really really good. It's hard to remember, but for the first 5 or so matches this season, he looked like the Gabby of old. He was fast, creative, and he could put a decent boot behind the ball. That player is someone worth having, and it's highly unlikely that he's totally disappeared. Skills like that don't vanish suddenly. Maybe Lambert can make something useful out of Gabby. I'm sure it would shock zero people if Lambert got more out of the Villa players than McLeish did.
There's also the fact that Gabby is a 25-year-old player and a life-long Villa fan with ties to the Birmingham area. Holt is 31 and has none of the emotional connection to the club. Basing a decision solely on emotion would be dumb, but when we factor in age, it seems obvious that Gabby is the better choice to keep. Holt likely played to his ceiling last season, whereas Gabby has room to improve, and time in which to do that. This would not be a season-crippling move, but it would be a disappointing one.
But there is one more problem to consider. Doesn't this all seem a little too convenient? Take this as your first reminder that we've entered fully into transfer rumor season. 95% of what you read - and that's a low estimate - will never come to fruition. More often than not, it's writers playing a game of connect-the-dots. Does it make sense that MON would want a striker who made him look good, and that Gabby would want a manager who did the same? Certainly. Is it logical to believe that Holt and Lambert would love to continue working together? Yeah, absolutely. Neither of these things mean the move is likely though. It's not impossible, so a story has been written about it. Remember how sure we were that OGS was going to be the next Villa manager? Or that it'd be Roberto Martinez? Well, transfer rumors are more numerous than managerial rumors, and generally even less believable. We'll cover these types of things all summer, but let this be the first warning to take any and all transfer speculation with a grain of salt.