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Friday, 11 January 2013

Aston Villa: Who is Lambert after in the January sales?


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We’re almost half way through January and there hasn’t been much movement made any clubs. The January transfer window is loved by some and hated by others, but it does always throw up a surprise or two, whether it’s a player who turns a team’s fortunes around or a player who completely disrupts a team’s stride.

Of course the biggest talking point at Villa is Darren Bent and whether he will be sold. Personally I don’t think that will happen until the summer, but any movement on his behalf would certainly throw up a lot of scenarios.

But can Villa afford to sell a quality striker when they’re languishing at the bottom of the table?

Strangely, since Lambert’s come in, for whatever reason, Bent just hasn’t performed and is clearly going to struggle to replace Christian Benteke as the club’s main striker.

Bent’s main problem is where does he go? It could be another Nigel Reo-Coker situation, who demanded a transfer and eventually ended up at Ipswich Town. If Villa did get close to £20 million for Bent – which seems to be the only way the club is going to be able to buy in January - where would they strengthen?

There are so many areas that need strengthening it’s difficult to know where to start but following another humiliating loss – this time to League Two side Bradford City in the League Cup – we may as well begin at the back.

Manager Paul Lambert is clearly going to stick to his guns and keep signing and playing young players. Everyone can see what he’s trying to do but it’s going to be very interesting - or from a Villa fan’s point of view, nerve-wracking – to see if it pays off.

LAmbertIf Villa could just place an experienced, quality player at the heart of that defence it could completely transform the team. Links have been made with Joleon Lescott of Manchester City. I don’t think there’s any chance of him joining, but that would be a fantastic signing.

Lescott has his critics but he has been there and done it now. He’s a Premier League winner and he’s played for England at the highest level. That's the type of player we need.

Villa’s defence is just hemorrhaging goals at the moment – five in 20 is ridiculous really – and the most worrying aspect is they don’t look like they are going to stop conceding. I don’t believe any other defender has been mentioned – other than Luis Cavanda, from Lazio - which is extremely worrying.The full back positions seem okay but in the middle something has got to be done.

The midfield is screaming out for some creativity. The high-earning, experienced players – Stephen Ireland and Charles N’Zogbia – have just not performed since signing for Villa. It’s extremely difficult to offload high-earning flops but, again, Villa desperately need some experience in the middle.

Someone like Michael Carrick would be ideal. A player who can run a game, pick out through balls and dictate the play. Villa’s only equivalent is Barry Bannan at the moment, but he needs support. Ashley Westwood has looked a good player but he doesn’t really create anything.

Villa have been linked with central midfielder Derek Boateng from Dnipro and attacking midfielder Modou Sougou from Cluj. To be honest I haven’t got a clue what they’re all about, but more midfield quality would be welcomed with open arms - and at least Cluj have qualified for the Champions League recently.

Other players include striker Glenn Murray from Crystal Palace and John Guidetti, a young forward who not surprisingly is struggling to break into the Manchester City side.

Robbie Keane was an absolute star when he came on loan last season – it could be argued it was his goals that kept us up – so any chance of bringing a player of his experience back would have to be a good thing.

The rumours also include defender Frederick Sørenson from Bologna, Charlton Athletic midfielder Dale Stephens and Moussa Sissoko from Toulouse. All are young players so there’s always the chance Lambert will be sniffing around them.

The whole James Milner returning rumour always does the rounds. As fantastic a proposition that would be, it’s not going to happen. In recent years Villa have been able to pry some good players away from rival sides of a similar quality by offering good contracts. Those days are gone now so where as a not so unrealistic dream could have been Lescott, Carrick, Milner and Keane, the likelihood is we might get one of the young players mentioned above while we could also lose our record transfer Darren Bent.

Even Jermain Defoe was linked with Villa during the summer but unfortunately he’s started playing well again!

If Villa manage to stay up the summer will be a much more hugely influential period of transfer activity for how the club will end up.

Lambert appears to have looked at what’s available for what he can spend and has thought it’s not worth making a move.

He could be right and the finger should really be pointed at chairman Randy Lerner because although he spent £20 million over the summer, Lambert was forced to start completely from scratch and build a new team around an already very fragile squad.

Thank the Lord for our youth set up because otherwise things would be even worse. You never know, no-one expected Bent to be signed two years ago so maybe Lambert and Lerner do still have a trick up their sleeve.

Calling all Villa fans: Who do you think Lambert will bring to the club this month? Do you think Villa should sell Bent in order to free up some cash? What areas of the pitch would you strengthen immediately? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth

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