Aston Villa skipper, Jack Grealish’s move to Manchester City is confirmed, and whilst the 25-year-old’s transfer to the Premier League champions is a very bitter pill to swallow for most of the club’s loyal fanbase, they still have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming 2021/22 campaign — with some very exciting new faces coming through the doors of Villa Park.
The additions of Emiliano Buendía from Norwich City (£35m), Leon Bailey from Bayer Leverkusen (£30m) and Danny Ings from Southampton (£30m) will make Villa all the more favourable in the English Premier League odds, and many are even tipping the midlands outfit to secure one the top flight’s seven European football spots.
Credit must be given to Villa for their business this summer. To bring in Buendía, Bailey and Ings and still have change left over from the £100m Man City are paying for Grealish is quite the feat. In the past, clubs of such stature have received similar fees for their star players and squandered it on dead wood. And whilst we can’t guarantee that the players Villa have brought in will all shine in the claret and blue, on paper, they are fantastic additions to Dean Smith’s squad.
Buendía, who won the Championship Player of the Season with the Canaries last season, has been a target of several Premier League clubs for a couple of seasons now, and the fact that Villa were able to land his signature ahead of Arsenal is testament to Smith’s and his team’s current vision.
Bailey, a former entry in the Bundesliga Team of the Season, had arguably his best season for Leverkusen last season — contributing towards 17 goals in 30 league games (nine goals and eight assists), whilst netting five times in eight Europa League outings. So, he’s a player that could cause the opposition defenders some serious issues next season.
Ings needs no introduction. The 29-year-old is a proven Premier League goalscorer, and if he can get the supply that he needs from the likes of Buendía, Bailey and Bertrand Traore, then he could easily net 15 or 20 times for Villa next season, as he did in his three seasons with Southampton — who are now one of the favourites for the drop in the English Premier League relegation odds.
It looks like Villa aren’t done in the transfer window just yet either, with Norwich’s Todd Cantwell and Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse reported targets to replace the outgoing Grealish. They are two fantastic players, and should soften the blow of Grealish’s massive move to Man City.
With their business thus far, Villa have set the bar high for the 2021/22 campaign and the task now is to ensure that they deliver. As already mentioned, pundits and fans alike are tipping Smith’s side for a place in Europe next season, but they will need to be far more consistent than they were last season.
The worry for Villa now is, there is a lot of added pressure this season, and that is something that the squad could struggle with, as they are so used to playing with no added expectations from the home crowd, who will certainly be making their feelings know at Villa Park this season after being absent for the last 18 months or so.
Villa are certainly a team to watch next season, but will they deliver? We’ll just have to wait and see!