Aston Villa find themselves at a bit of a predicament.
Injuries have decimated their squad. John McGinn is ruled out for the foreseeable future with a fractured ankle whilst Tom Heaton and Wesley are set to miss the rest of the season after damaging their knee ligaments in the 2-1 FA Cup win over Burnley.
That is Villa’s first-choice goalkeeper and two players accountable for close to 30 percent of their Premier League goals this season. The term’disaster’ springs to mind.
A striker is on the cards this month, too, with Villa being connected with a multitude of names.
But this decision can not be rushed. It is no exaggeration to suggest getting this right could be what is the difference between survival and relegation. Without goals, you’re as good as completed in the Premier League. By way of instance, Danny Ings has fired Southampton up the table having scored ten in his last 11 outings. The former Liverpool is responsible for 51 percent of the goals scored by Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side this term.
Villa lack that goal-getter supreme. They’re currently without a dependable menace from the penalty box. Addressing this is a priority but Smith and the recruiting team can’t just settle for anyone.
Sieving through the recent links, we’ve taken a detailed look at the candidates who could be tasked with filling the void let by Wesley.
Without a goal since April, the Belgian forward enjoyed the best spell of his career at Villa Park. The 29-year-old netted 42 times in 89 Premier League appearances for the Villans to earn a £32million move to Liverpool in 2015.
However, afforded just 14 league starts and nine goals in his single season at Anfield, Benteke then proceeded to Crystal Palace for a club-record £27million a year later. After a glowing debut campaign with the Eagles, in which he scored 15 times, he has struggled. Since the beginning of this 2017/18 campaign, Benteke has just four goals in 61 games.
Turning to him to solve a goalscoring crisis might appear misguided. But if the one-time Genk man is ever going to rediscover the form that made him one of the most feared strikers in the Premier League, returning to Villa might be the catalyst to that.
Despite his lack of goals, Benteke still has impressive expected goals (xG) average (0.29) since the beginning of last season. For instance, Wesley’s average before suffering the season-ending harm was 0.30 per 90.
With Palace seemingly open to devoting the Belgium international out, a reunion with the Villa Park faithful could be on the cards. It might be the perfect deal for all parties.
Much like Benteke, the Milan forward finds himself in a bad spot. Just 12 months after being courted by some of the world’s elite clubs, the Milan No.9 is being shown the exit door at San Siro.
The 24-year-old, also a target for Tottenham Hotspur, would be something of a risk for Villa.
Untried in the Premier League, it would be a bet to expect him to hit the ground running and begin banging in the goals. Something he has scarcely done since the January move from Genoa.
While he’s still getting into good positions, his ending has deserted him over recent months. It could be a problem with confidence and he could start firing again. But there is no guarantee and when Premier League survival hinges on those goals, it seems like an unnecessary risk.
The World Cup winner is agitating for a move away from Chelsea after falling behind Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi at Frank Lampard’s pecking order.
Based on reports in L’Equipe, the Frenchman is believed to want to move to be able to get more playing time ahead of the 2020 European Championships where he will hope to lead the line for les Bleus once more.
He’s been frequently linked with Internazionale but if he’s in search of regular minutes the Nerazzurri aren’t in a position to offer that to him thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s form. Villa, on the other hand, could use him in place of Wesley in some matches and he’d get time off the bench, too.
Giroud wouldn’t be a long-term option. At 33 he’s coming to the end of his career. But as he showed for Chelsea last season, he still has something to give and Villa need somebody to have an impact now.