Aston Villa linked with ‘new Yaya Toure’ while ‘framework of a deal’ agreed on summer transfer
The latest Aston Villa transfer news as Steven Gerrard prepares his side to face Leicester City this weekend.
The Old Lady are set to replace current number one Wojciech Szczesny and reports claim that manager Massimiliano Allegri wants Martinez as his new goalkeeper. But any move to prise the Argentine away from Villa Park would take a huge offer, especially as the 29-year-old has recently signed a new contract at the club.
Martinez signed a new five-year deal until 2027 in January and has already claimed that Villa “feels like home” and has stressed his desire to win a major trophy with the club after penning that new deal.
Earlier this season, Martinez, who has cemented his reputation as one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers, also indicated that he wanted to stay at Villa despite interest from elsewhere. He said: “They opened the doors for me. With the Copa America they might be worried about new clubs coming in and me going to play at a Champions League club and the first thing I say to the sporting director is, ‘I want to be here’.
“This is the club that helped me be a No.1. I play every single league game. I love everything about Aston Villa especially the fans.” And after signing his new deal, Martinez assured fans where he saw his future.
Former Aston Villa winger Yannick Bolasie has shared footage of himself in action during his time with the club.
Bolasie uploaded a clip of a fan filming him during a game against Leeds United in the 2018-19 season at Villa Park. The on-loan Everton man took out Whites defenders Luke Ayling and Pontus Jansson with a deft piece of skill before the clip cut out.
Bolasie spent the first half of the 2018-19 season on loan at Villa before opting to cut short his loan spell in order to try to force his way into the team at Everton. His £25 million move to Goodison Park from Crystal Palace in 2016 did not work out and he would spend the rest of Villa’s promotion campaign on loan at Belgian side Anderlecht.
Bolasie appeared 21 times for Villa, scoring twice and registering five assists before departing Villa Park. He was a hit with fans because of his trickery on the wings and upon uploading footage of his skills former Villa players piled in.
Alan Hutton and John Terry gave it their seal of approval while Villa fans favourite Tammy Abraham wrote in the comments section of his Instagram post: “I was standing there clapping… forgot to get in the box.” Abraham himself was a hit with Villa fans for his 26 goals as Dean Smith ‘s side earned promotion back into the Premier League after three seasons out of the top flight.
Aston Villa have drawn up their summer transfer plans and could be one of the busier Premier League clubs when the window opens in June.
Preparations have been made and targets identified as head coach Steven Gerrard looks to strengthen his squad ahead of a crucial 2022/23 Premier League campaign. It is expected that he will get the club challenging for European football next term with the support of a few additions made to his team.
But there are still seven games left of this season and CEO Christian Purslow has insisted that a good end to the campaign can “set up a really good summer.” And with the club owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens set to back Gerrard in the market, Purslow and sporting director Johan Lange joined the head coach on a scouting mission on Wednesday night.
All three were in attendance at the Stade Velodrome to watch Marseille’s home clash against Nantes in Ligue 1. And reports in France claim they were watching 22-year-old midfielder Boubacar Kamara.
Steven Gerrard has often lamented his squad for lacking that big-game nous and experience to dig in and win. The head coach wants proven winners within his ranks when he assembles his new-look squad in the summer.
One player who’s been and done it on the big stage, though, is a certain Bertrand Traore, a player who’s thrived as a leading figure at Ajax and Lyon, two huge clubs in Europe. Traore has scored crucial goals in both the Champions League and Europa League, while he continues to be a pillar of strength for his country, Burkina Faso, and captained them to a narrow fourth-place finish at the Africa Cup of Nations back in early February.
Traore’s had rotten luck with injuries all season and returned from the AFCON with another hamstring setback. Gerrard, 41, spoke of his “frustration” at not having Traore available for the fixtures with Leeds, Newcastle and Watford. The winger returned to the bench for Villa’s hammering of Southampton in March and, in Villa’s previous six matches, has only featured for all of 20 minutes as a late cameo in the defeat to Arsenal a little over a month ago.
Last season, Traore was a big hit scoring seven and assisting the same amount in his debut campaign following his £17million transfer from Ligue 1. The Burkinabe linked up well with the now-departed Jack Grealish and scored goals of the highest calibre which underlined his sheer quality.
Matter of pride
Aston Villa captain Tyrone Mings has called on his team-mates to have some ‘personal pride’ as they look to end a four game losing streak.
Villa travel to the King Power Stadium on Saturday to take on Leicester City with a top-10 finish still possible, despite sitting in 15th place with seven games left. Steven Gerrard’s side are only four points behind Brighton and Hove Albion and have played two games less.
In order for Villa to climb up the table, Mings has said they must stop conceding soft goals and take their chances. In this poor run of games, Villa have conceded nine goals and only found the back of the net three times. They failed to score against Tottenham Hotspur last week while shipping four.
Ahead of the trip to face the Foxes, Mings wants to see a ‘more ruthless and more clinical’ Villa against a side who haven’t won in two Premier League games but are through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League.
“As a defence, we have to look at not conceding such poor goals. The league is hard enough and unforgiving enough without us giving the opposition a leg up or a goal advantage,” Mings told Aston Villa’s official website. “We want to be better in both boxes. Both attacking-wise and defending, we have to be more ruthless and more clinical.
Aston Villa have been linked with Ivory Coast midfielder Seko Fofana. French website But!Football Club, via Sport Witness, claims Villa ‘strongly appreciate’ the 26-year-old who plays his domestic football for Lens.
They claim Fofana, who is under contract until June 2024, already has suitors such as Ligue 1 rivals Marseille and Lyon and that he also has admirers abroad, including AC Milan who it is claimed could come in for him if they can’t land Renato Sanches.
They also reckon there is plenty of Premier League interest with Villa and Leicester interested, along with Newcastle – with whom he was linked in January – and Tottenham. Fofana has experience of English football having spent three years with Manchester City’s Under 21s after joining them from Lorient.
He also made 21 Championship appearances on loan from City, where he was claimed to be the new Yaya Toure, to Fulham in 2014/2015 before being loaned to Bastia and then sold to Udinese where he spent four seasons before returning to his homeland to join Lens.
Former Aston Villa prodigy Adam McGurk has revealed how injuries stole his love of football and prevented him from fulfilling the enormous talent he showed as a youngster. In a heartfelt interview with the Portsmouth News the 33-year-old has described how he was once viewed as ‘the next big thing’ during his early years as a trainee at Bodymoor Heath.
He joined Villa from Larne Youth in Northern Ireland and was a contemporary of the likes of Premier League winner Marc Albrighton and Scotland international Barry Bannan. But while many of his peers went on to have long careers in the game, McGurk endured a nightmare run of misfortune that saw him leave in 2009 and restricted to lower league clubs.
Despite being on the fringes of Martin O’Neill’s first team the forward played in a youth team fixture on March 17, 2007, when disaster struck and he ruptured knee ligaments which kept him out for almost a year.
He then suffered from shin splints which required surgery and another six months on the sidelines and played another game with two tears in his quads before his time at the club ended. ‘I was only 20 but done, that was it, I packed football in,” he told the News. “I wouldn’t leave the house for days, I had no interest in anything other than sleeping, playing video games and messing about.
“What I didn’t know was that I was depressed. I received counselling at the time, going three to four times, but it didn’t do anything for me. It was probably two years later, when I was at Tranmere, that I looked back and realised ‘Wow, I was low then’.
“I have never loved football the same since I was 18, before then it was all I wanted to do, all I thought about. Then, after the injury at Villa, it just became a job to me. I didn’t want to play, I was fed up.
“It’s probably why I stayed at League One and League Two level my whole career, I never really cared enough after that, I never cared enough to dedicate myself. I wasn’t living great either. If I wanted to go out on a weekend I would, if I wanted a night out I would. I did it because it was a job which every now and then I liked.”
Steven Gerrard continues to cast his eye over Aston Villa’s stars of the future. The head coach handed Tim Iroegbunam his Premier League debut back in February while others – Tommi O’Reilly and Ben Chrisene – have been in Villa’s match day squads.
The 41-year-old enjoyed a stint at Melwood working with Liverpool’s under-18s and under-19s before stepping up into management with Rangers in 2018. Gerrard knows what it takes to step up from being an academy player to a first-team regular having done it at Anfield while, this season, Jacob Ramsey has excelled under the gaffer’s tutelage.
Ahead of what’s a pivotal pre-season, BirminghamLive picks out the next cabs off the rank, if you like, with Gerrard set to integrate Villa’s talented youngsters with new senior additions.
The 18-year-old has stepped up to make four of Villa’s Premier League squads since February and, with Lucas Digne out for a while with a collarbone injury, then there’s every chance the left-back could finally make his big-league bow.
Chrisene is approaching two years at Villa after academy manager Mark Harrison beat competition from Liverpool and Chelsea to land the teenager from Exeter in 2020. Villa fans will remember Chrisene from his brilliant goal in front of the Holte End to help win the FA Youth Cup last season.
Predominantly a left-back, there’s real scope for Chrisene to move into central midfield given his ability in possession. “We’re really excited to try to help him become a Premier League player,” Gerrard said of Chrisene who, this week, has continued to work with the first-team group back at Bodymoor Heath.
Like Chrisene, Barber’s been heavily involved in first-team training sessions in recent weeks. The 16-year-old stepped up to replace Kaine Kesler Hayden as a cover option in training following his loan to MK Dons.
Villa signed Barber from Fulham last summer and he’s continued to show real promise as an attacking wing-back having chalked up five assists from his 23 appearances at youth level this season. A quick and direct defender, Barber has recently played as a right-midfielder for England’s under-17s where he remains a constant fixture for manager Tom Curtis.
Targett has done extremely well since moving to St James’ Park on loan in the January transfer window, playing every game for which he has been available and helping the club escape the relegation mire.
Speaking after the Toon’s victory over Leicester City earlier this month Targett was asked about his future and he said: “I am sure and hope they can sort something out for me. For sure (decision time) is coming closer so, at the moment, I am really enjoying my time here and loving playing in front of the Geordie fans.”
United manager Eddie Howe welcomed those comments but was not shocked by them, saying: “I’d be surprised if there was any other feeling from him because he’s looked so happy and settled in well. There are still games to play this season and opinions to be fully formed but I think he’s done very well. He’s fitted into the team and the group very well. He’s been very consistent with his performances.
Steven Gerrard has said football is a ‘cruel business’ and he wants no guarantees from Aston Villa owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens as the club aims to qualify for European football in the coming years.
Villa are currently sitting in 15th place on the Premier League table with seven games of the 2021/22 campaign left to play. It has been a turbulent third season back in the top-flight following promotion in 2019, after the £100million sale of Jack Grealish last summer and the sacking of Dean Smith in November.
Gerrard was installed as the number one candidate to take over from Smith, and the former Rangers boss claims that his first conversation with the club’s owners and officials were vitally important to him accepting the job. Speaking on the Overlap, Gerrard also said that they were all aligned in a mission take Villa back into Europe, which will take serious investment in players and excellent recruitment.
Gerrard said of the summer transfer window approaching: “I don’t want to go on record and say what has been said privately in meetings with the owners, but the key thing for me when I went back to Liverpool as a coach, when I went to Rangers, the important thing is the first chat.
“It’s like, come on then where are we now, let’s be honest, where are we now. What is it going to take and are we all on the same page, are we aligned with that belief and that ambition to have a really good crack at it. I don’t want any guarantees, I don’t expect owners to say to me that you’ve got three or four years without a doubt and you have X amount of money. I don’t think football works like that.”