Originally published in Give Me Sport – 12 April, 2016
Aston Villa are gone. Although not mathematically, it is only a matter of time before we wave goodbye to the Villains. Their complete collapse is likely to see many leave the club, with a total lack of fight evident in all but a few players.
The question is: how many players would be worth signing?
Aston Villa’s defence has been laughable this season with poor decision-making and a complete lack of fight. The standout player, however, has been Micah Richards.
As club captain, he’s shown passion and a scrapping spirit to try and see his team over the line. The reaction he showed after their 1-1 FA Cup draw with Wycombe Wanderers, speaking to the fans and listening to their concerns, proved his professionalism and respect for the fans.
He has seen good individual performances, this season, marred by poor team displays and has seen himself deployed at right-back, to make space for Joleon Lescott and Ciaran Clark/Jores Okore. His versatility, however, is a valued asset that bigger teams may seek to utilise.
The Premier League winner has some years left and is of an international standard, having acquired 13 caps for England. Bigger clubs could look to secure his signing with a current mid-table side, perhaps Everton or West Brom, the most likely destinations.
Perhaps the most naturally talented player at Villa is 20-year-old Jack Grealish and he looks set to become a great player in the future.
He brings great control, pinpoint passing, and the rare ability to read a game at such a young age. Any team could benefit from this lad’s potential but it’s hard to see him forcing his way into any starting XI, except for the lower table sides, maybe.
Although he could be a shrewd signing for a bigger club, his fee would probably be enough to deter any potential buyers. It is likely, then, that Grealish will remain with his boyhood club and continue to develop – and potentially flourish – in the Championship.
Jordan Ayew is another player who could tempt bigger teams with his signature. He’s shown sporadic signs of brilliance but has been very inconsistent.
He’s a pacey player and has bagged himself six goals this season – not bad considering he’s playing as a lone striker, during his first season in the Premier League, and for a woeful team.
At 24, he has many years left and could see a move materialise to a lower table Premier League club, with West Ham said to be chasing his signature. More likely, however, would be a move back to France where he has previously enjoyed spells with Marseille and Lorient.
Joleon Lescott could see a move away from Villa Park materialise in the summer, having endured a poor season and aggravating many a fan with his demeanour, on and off the pitch. At 33, however, it is hard to see any Premier League teams approaching him, besides a newly promoted side, and it is more likely he would jet across the pond to play in the MLS.
Rudy Gestede, despite signing for £6 million, has spurned his chance to impress in the Premier League. There’s the chance a newly promoted side may want him for his aerial prowess, but it is more likely he will remain in the Championship, with Villa, where he has been so effective before.