On this quiet quiet day we’ve been linked with another player, this time 20 year old attacking midfielder Adem Ljajic.
A couple of seasons ago he was due to join Manchester United but after that fell through, he made the move to Fiorentina.
He has yet to make too many appearances in his brief career, though seems highly rated. At the moment the player is finding opportunities limited at Fiorentina, and there is talk of a loan move come January. He’s a bit more physical than our other attacking figures and looks very adept at set pieces.
Here is a video of him in action….enjoy!
I love transfer links. Despite very rarely being true, it’s always fun to see us linked with random players, and in the case of players like today’s link, researching a bit about them.
The story appeared in the Mirror, and it’s pretty brief, with details thin on the ground. Here’s the story:
‘Aston Villa are tracking Serbian striker Nemanja Milic, 21, who plays for OFK Beograd.
Milic, who plays for Serbia under-21s, could be available for a cut-price deal in January as he is a free agent next summer.’
And that’s it. Looking a bit further, he has scored 12 goals in 69 appearances, and stands at 6ft 1. I doubt he would cost much, and any players coming in would be a bonus. Like Naismith last week though, there are arguments to be made that we don’t need to strengthen this particular area, especially on a relatively unproven player. We already have Weimann and the Fonz as young back-ups, and while I don’t know much at all about Milic, I would rather give them a chance first.
Here is a video (I think!) of Milic in action.
The transfer links return again today with another link to a player plying his trade in Scotland. This time it’s Steven Naismith, the 25 year old Rangers striker.
These links are easy to make when taking account our manager used to manage Rangers previously, and I imagine the speculation will increase with regards to players north of the border. With regards to Naismith, he is a striker who has progressed steadily throughout his career, and since making the move to Rangers from Kilmarnock, he has recorded slightly less than a goal every three games.
He’s started this particular season in electric form however, scoring eight in eight to date, although he was recently handed a two match suspension after elbowing Dunfermline captain Austin McCann. I don’t think he would cost the world, though the question that needs to be asked is do we need another striker?
While we haven’t scored as many as we would have liked this season, we have four/five strikers who look like they’re competing for one ‘true’ position up front. You’d imagine that when Bent returns to fitness that will be his position, with Gabby and Heskey playing off him if we continue with the formation we have largely used this campaign. That leaves Delfouneso and Weimann competing for a back-up role, and both have seen game time in recent outings. For me personally, I would prefer to see us strengthen elsewhere, although if we do make a change and play two up front, the extra competition up top would be welcome.
Speaking of strikers, quotes have surfaced today that Darren Bent wants to take the penalties upon his return from injury, and for me at least, that’s the way it should be. Barry Bannan stepped up when we needed him too, and took a cracking penalty that the QPR keeper Paddy Kenny couldn’t keep out, despite going the right way. For me though, when you have a £20million plus striker on the pitch who is confident in his ability from 12 yards, he should be handed the responsibility all day long. Bent does have a terrific record from the spot, and after many season of never feeling too confident when we were awarded a penalty, it’s good to know that we have at least two players who want to take them, and are normally pretty successful with their efforts. Here is what Bent had to say:
“I, 100 per cent, want to keep taking the penalties. I was delighted to see Barry slot that one away, it was a top spot-kick.
“It was his first goal in the Premier League too so I really couldn’t have been happier for him. It must have been a big moment for him.
“But as a striker, if I’m on the pitch, I want to take them. Alan Shearer once said to me ‘what striker wouldn’t want to be on penalties?”
What do you think Villans? Let us know your views as always.
It’s been a quiet few weeks since the end of the transfer window, so I’m delighted to see the return of fanciful transfer links.
First up is a young Norwegian midfielder by the name of Markus Henriksen. Now I can’t pretend to know anything about him, but further research made for impressive reading. Only 19, Henriksen is blessed with a good engine and an ability to score from all over the pitch. He’s also a more imposing presence than the midfielders we currently have at the Villa, coming in at over 6 foot.
There are a few youtube videos of the player, and we have included one for your viewing pleasure here. He seems extremely highly rated, and as mentioned, the boy can finish.
Now we all know that 99% of the time, these transfer links come to nothing. Still, I always enjoy reading them, and it makes for more positive reading than what we’ve been subjected to recently if nothing else!
Under 21 roundup, star would have quit had Houllier stayed, more links to an old boy and Bent update….busy day!
The encouraging start to the season continued last night as some of Villa’s young stars impressed while on under 21 duty with their respective countries.
Nathan Baker started for England U’21′s but his night was cruelly cut short as he suffered a knee injury just before half time. During the game he look composed on the ball, and spread it around nicely from his centre-back role. Could do nothing about the goal as Israel broke from a corner with Baker out of position after pushing forward for the set piece. No news yet on the extent of his injury but we wish him well.
Nathan Delfouneso and Gary Gardner both made appearances during the second half, coming on side by side with around twenty five minutes to play. Gardner was making his debut at this level and while he didn’t get many chances to show what he can do, he did spray a number of cracking balls out wide, and it is only a matter of time before he makes an impact at first team level. I thought the Fonz looked really sharp, and deserved his goal for his lively cameo. It came via the penalty spot, and despite a rather awkward stop, start, step back, run forward run-up, he still finished with aplomb, slotting the ball into the bottom corner. The game finished 4 – 1 to England and our young Villans should be proud at their performances.
Another young striker, Andreas Weimann, currently on loan at Watford scored a goal in Austria’s under 21 victory against their Greek counterparts as they won 3 2. This was in addition to the two he grabbed last Friday against Luxembourg. Not a bad few days! He’s very highly rated at the Villa and I would like to see him given a chance this season. The Championship is a very good league so the loan should stand him in good stead. Good luck for the rest of it!
As I write this Richard Dunne has just finished performing heroics in Russia, and has made a quite incredible goal-line stop which you need to see. Given was also sensational behind him and this can only bode well for the Villa, well in boys! In other Dunne news though, the defender has admitted that he would have ‘probably left had Houllier had stayed’. Now we all know about the infamous fall out last season, and his form was inconsistent at best last campaign. I don’t think it’s worthwhile talking about the past, and you can see from his performances already that Dunne, along with Collins are enjoying playing under the new manager. We’ve only conceded the one goal in three games, and I hope that this impressive form continues as the season progresses. A Richard Dunne playing at his best, can only be a good thing for the Villa. You can see the difference having Given behind him makes, and I hope we can get back to being the defensive force we were a few seasons ago.
The links to Villa old boy Steven Davis first came up towards the end of the transfer window, and now it appears as we were genuinely interested in the midfielder as McLeish has revealed the following:
“Steven Davis is a Rangers player. We asked about him, but we know how much he means to Rangers”
“We never pursued it because they made it clear he wasn’t for sale.”
I was a fan of Davis during his initial tenure at the Villa, and thought he performed well albeit in a very poor Villa side. Despite links to Man Utd he went on to Fulham where he did very little before shining in Scotland with Rangers. He does have talent, but for me we have too many similar players here, and I’d prefer to see the likes of Bannan/Ireland given a go before we wasted money and wages on a player we don’t really need. We’ve been burnt before on signing players from Scotland, and I fear we would again if we were to bring Davis back to our club.
Lastly today and a quick update from AMC who has said Bent is ‘touch and go’ to face Everton this weekend. Now this doesn’t sound too promising, and while I hope he makes it, if there is any doubt we’d be better letting him sit this one out, rather than run the risk of losing him for a longer period. If he is out then we have to find a way of creating, and taking our chances. I would like to see the aforementioned Delfouneso given a run-out, but I expect that Gabby would move up, with perhaps Jenas or Bannan taking his place on the left. Time will tell but we hope it’s nothing too serious!
As always, feel free to share your views on here, or via our Facebook and Twitter pages.
So far today we’ve seen the usual amount of Villa transfer madness.
Here is an update:
It looks like young Irish left-back Enda Stevens has all but confirmed his proposed move to Villa, and will be joining in January after Shamrock’s Europa League campaign.
We were apparently in talks with Joe Cole, but he has completed his year long loan move to Lille.
Still looking likely that the Hutton move will be completed at some point today.
The latest link is with Jermaine Jenas, with Sky Sports News (SSN) reporting that we’ve made enquiries for the England midfielder.
Latest update is that Villa and Tottenham are discussing a loan move for Jenas.
Despite reports linking Fulham with a move for Hutton, the Birmingham’s Mail Mat Kendrick understands that the player is en route to Bodymoor Heath for a medical. Talk emerging of Jenas to Stoke.
It has been confirmed that Villa have completed the signing of the aforementioned Edna Stevens and he will join the club in January.
Hutton fee has reportedly been agreed and a medical is close. Jenas deal edging towards being completed as well.
Still waiting for an update on Hutton and Jenas. It is understood we have a 6% sell on fee for Gary Cahill should he move to Tottenham or another club.
After a quick break from reading football to play it, come back to read official Villa announcement that Jenas and Hutton are undergoing medicals. It seems that these two will be the end of our transfer dealings and the latest news that Hutton has turned down Fulham surely means an announcement is inevitable.
And we’re done! Villa have completed the signing of Alan Hutton on a deal until 2015 and Jermaine Jenas has signed on a year long loan. Good deals in my opinion and we have a very promising young left back to come in in January.
There was a time when I used to love this time of the year, transfer deal following transfer deal, 12 hours sat watching Sky Sports News, constantly refreshing newsnow. This year though the usual excitement seems to be missing, and I can’t wait for the window to close.
I’m not sure if it’s depression at Villa’s lack of activity, other clubs buying players I would like or Man City being…. well Man City but I just want it to end!
With a little under 24 hours remaining of this transfer window, the general consensus is that Villa will look to bring in three new faces (feel free to prove me wrong Randy and Alex!) with two of those targets well known at this stage. One of those is Alan Hutton, who has been linked for a while and makes sense. He will only cost a bit more than the money we received for Luke Young, is six years younger and will be on less. He did go for £9 million when he made the move to Spurs, and is a good solid player who will do a good job for us.
The other is an unknown to the majority of fans and goes by the rather awesome name of Enda Stevens. He’s a young Irish left back currently playing for Shamrock Rovers and it looks like the move is more or less complete. Now this offers virtually no risk to Villa, and will offer good cover for Warnock when he arrives in January (it appears he is staying for Shamrock’s Europa League campaign). I’ve seen a lot of Villa fans dismiss him without probably seeing him in action. Those who have seem to rate him and if he does turn into a good player, then what a move by the Villa. Countless players have been plucked from lower leagues or Ireland (Paul McGrath + Roy Keane anyone) so let’s give him a chance.
I’m hoping the last player is a midfielder and with Makoun leaving we need to add another new face. Yes he hasn’t featured in the league this season but if we have an injury crisis like last season, things could get messy. A number of players have been linked, including ex Villa old boy Steven Davis this evening but the truth is it could be one of any number of players. McLeish may still yet pull out a wildcard like he did at the Blues, now that would be nice!
I just want it done, whoever we bring in great, let us move on, get behind the club and look to the future.
As well as comfortably beating Blackburn this weekend, a number of stories surfaced about Jean Makoun, our enigmatic midfielder who seems to be polarising opinion at Villa Park. Despite only being a Villa player since January, there have been numerous posts suggesting that he may soon be departing, with Greek side Olympiakos heavily linked in a loan deal.
There can be no doubt that Makoun is a quality player, and you only have to look at his performance against Manchester United last season to see signs that he can make it in the Premiership, and can make an impact. It is worth pointing out though that he has only made seven appearances for the Villa, and taking away the display at Old Trafford, he has certainly struggled to adapt to top flight football in England.
This season has seen Makoun named on the bench for our opening two games, and not make it off it as he has remained an unused substitute. Indeed in our last game against Blackburn, McLeish chose to bring on Barry Bannan (who did his prospects no harm with a great cameo) leaving our Cameroonian international frustrated yet again. At the moment is appears he may be no higher than fourth in the pecking order for our central midfield, and with Petrov and Delph forming a very encouraging partnership, he may find chances limited in the upcoming months. I imagine Makoun, along with a few others will get a chance against Hereford this week in the Carling Cup, and an impressive performance might go some way to changing our managers opinion of him.
Even in the last 24 hours or so there have been conflicting stories regarding Makoun, and here is a little snippet to give you an idea. The Daily Mirror reported that Makoun could leave but despite the story seeming to not carry much weight, Mirror journalist James Nursey ‘tweeted’ a few direct (or so he says) quotes from Alex McLeish that would seem to suggest Makoun doesn’t have much hope of a future at the Villa.
‘Gents, about Makoun, I personally asked AM directly about JM (leaving Villa Park) and that was his response. AM clearly doesn’t rate Makoun. sorry’
‘The only way JM will stay is if no-one comes in for him. He’s lightweight, has not settled on or off pitch and AM clearly don’t rate him.’
This would make it seem like the player has little chance of success at the Villa, but in the last few hours the player himself has spoken of his desire to stay a Villan for the foreseeable future.
‘I want to start games, the new manager has come in and I need to impress him. I want to fight and prove myself in the best league in the world – I love English football.’
So is he staying or going? Personally speaking I’d like him to stay, we saw last year the massive impact multiple injuries can have. His quality is not in question, and he’s played regularly in the Champions League. I can’t see him going without someone else coming in, and we’ve been linked with a number of midfield players in recent times. Scott Parker is the link that won’t go away and while I’d be loathe to spend anywhere north of £5 million on him, there can be no doubting his qualities as a footballer. A newer link is to Celtic’s Israeli internation, Beram Kayal. He does look like he can play, but we’ve been burned before on players coming to the Premiership from Scotland.
With the transfer window shutting soon we should get our answer. As I’ve said personally speaking I would keep him here, he hasn’t had much of a chance to show what he can do and his knitwear is a constant source of amusement.
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In yet another twist to the Carlos Cuellar saga (it seems that transfers both in and out at Villa seem to take an age) it now appears that he may yet be staying at the club after comments from both parties seem to suggest that for the time being at least, the move is dead.
Rangers apparently expressed a bit of concern about his latest injury, and were also struggling to come to an agreement over wages with Carlos picking up around £35,000 a week at Villa, a task not helped by the Scottish clubs elimination from the Champions League qualifiers. Alex McLeish has also said the following, and still refuses to rule out his exit:
“Carlos is a very good experienced player. I think Rangers have gone cold on the idea so, as far as we are concerned, he is a Villa player.
“He is a solid defender and did a tremendous job for Rangers when he was up there in his first spell. He is a terrific defender and is very experienced cover.
“He is not far away from running, so he is maybe a week or two away from joining the group. Will he still be here in a fortnight? I can’t predict that.
“We just have to get on with things and keep plugging away to get results.”
It’s an interesting one with King Carlos. A lot of the fans (myself included) hold him in high regard, and I actually think he’s one of the better centre-backs at the club. McLeish is the latest in a line of managers though to not really give him a chance and while we all fancy we could do a better job as the gaffer, surely they can’t all be wrong about the player? Personally I’d like to see him stay but if he’s not going to play and isn’t part of the long term plans, then we’d be better to at least get some money in for him, and get his wages off the books. The last thing I want to see is another O’Neill signing leave for nothing or a fraction of their true worth, we’ve been down that road too many times before.
Now on to more positive news and it really is significant as it has been reported that Shay Given should be fit to make his home debut this weekend against Blackburn. Alarms were raised when James Collins began taking goal kicks towards the end of the Fulham match, and in the aftermath it was revealed he had a slight groin strain. The good news is though he should be back in training tomorrow and with no setbacks free to play on the weekend. Now please join me in a collective sigh of relief.
Looking past the first team and our youngsters play their first match of the NextGen tournament tonight, taking on European giants Ajax in Amsterdam. Make no mistake this is a huge deal for the club, and can only benefit the young stars taking part. Mark Warburton, the creator of NextGen has revealed why Villa were worthy candidates to take a place in the inaugural competition:
“You can go to Bodymoor Heath and see you have got world class facilities there.
“I know [Villa's academy director] Bryan Jones very well and have seen the excellent work that has been done in the academy.
“You can also look at the FA Youth Cup over the past couple of seasons and see the quality teams that Villa have put out there.
“Even back when I was a young player for Leicester in the 1980s, Villa always brought through young players.”
We’ve taken a strong squad over to Holland, with some well known names such as Daniel Johnson, Samir Carruthers, Graham Burke and Benjamin Siegrist all involved. The best of luck to the Villa and let’s show the rest of Europe we have one of the very best youth set-up’s in football. Just no-one get any ideas about stealing any of our young stars.
Finishing today and a rather fanciful link to Nicolas Anelka. This popped up late last night with talk of a loan move and before long was all over twitter, Facebook and the like. The source is highly dubious with it looking like it has been picked up from a users comment on the Sky Sports transfer window watch site. Sky then decided to publish it in the main section and like that, a new transfer rumour was born! Will it happen, probably not. Would it be nice, well yes! He’s still a great striker and if he joined Bolton (no offence intended) I’d like to think he would come to us….even taking off my Villa hat we’re still a bigger and more attractive club. Still I can’t see it happening but it’s still good to be linked to players of this quality. After the news of enquiries for Milner and Johnson, it still suggests we’re looking to strengthen, and strengthen with players who can make a difference. I have faith we can have a good season, but numbers are undeniably low in the squad and a couple of new faces could make a massive difference to our fortunes this campaign. Over to you Villa.
I don’t know if it’s the euphoria that we’ve actually made a signing, but the more I look and think about the Shay Given move, the more it feels like we’ve done something pretty special bringing him to Villa Park.
I’m not going to say he was my first choice, I was in the camp that wanted to bring in a younger goalkeeper and not have to worry about the position for the next 10 or so years. Still if you look at the options out there, we’ve arguably got the best available keeper on the market. Ali Al-Habsi was always likely to return to Wigan and after the tiny matter of stealing their manager from them, any negotiations with the Blues for the signing of Ben Foster would have been fraught with difficulties. I would have liked to have had a look at Kieren Westwood, but he’s an unproven quality in the premiership and after the departure of Mr Reliable Brad Friedel, we really needed someone to come in who’s done it consistently at this level. Make no mistake, Shay Given has, and before a tainted few years at Man City (sound familiar?), he was without doubt one of the very best goalkeepers in the league and possibly Europe.
I think we only have to look at the reaction of fellow football fans and people in the wider football world to know we’ve done well signing Given. I’m still getting used to Twitter but I’d say 99% of the people making comments on the move were leaving 140 positive characters. Arsenal fans in particular couldn’t believe our luck, and were equally as angry at Mr Wenger for not making a move. Man City and Newcastle fans were equally kind with what they had to say and you know something, it feels great. It’s nice that other fans are jealous of a move that the Villa make and it’s just as good to see hundreds of people say how well he’ll do for us and how well we’ve done bringing him here. Of course he has to produce now he’s made the move, but I think he’ll more than payback the £3.5 million spent on him.
Here are a few ‘tweet’s’ from those not directly linked with the Villa and as I said, they make for very pleasing reading:
Henry Winter (Telegraph journalist): Congratulations to avfc. Just signed one of best gks around in Shay Given. Upbeat dressing-room presence & fantastic club ambassador too.
Phil McNulty (BBC Sport journalist): Shay Given signs a five-year deal with Aston Villa. Excellent, experienced goalkeeper with plenty left to give.
Matt Holland (former footballer): Great business by AVFC. Replaced a 40 year old top keeper with a 35 year old better one IMO.
Yes he is 35 but to use one of football’s finer clichés, goalkeepers tend to get better as they get older and he has five years on our previous number one Friedel, a man who very rarely let us down.
It really is amazing the difference one signing can make, and it’s a great first purchase for our new manager Alex McLeish. I have faith he’s going to continue to make shrewd purchases and I honestly believe we may surprise a lot of people this season, the majority of whom are too quick to write us off.
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