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Great job Bruce – Offering a new deal to this £50,000-a-week superstar is a step in the right direction for Aston Villa

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Aston Villa have done a brilliant job by offering Jack Grealish a new contract

Aston Villa’s on-field exploits might be forgettable this season but they recently made a huge announcement. According to The Times, star midfielder Jack Grealish has signed a new five-year contract with the club.

The 23-year-old was close to leaving the club only a month ago, amid strong interest from Premier League outfit Tottenham Hotspur (h/t The Times). However, the north Londoners failed to meet Villa’s asking price, meaning the deal fell through and Grealish stayed put at the Villa Park. And now, he has signed a new and improved contract which has seen his wages rise to £50,000-a-week.

Grealish has been at Aston Villa since the age of 8. Having risen through the youth ranks rapidly, the midfielder made his first-team debut in the 2013/14 season. Since then, he has gone on to make a total of 120 appearances for the club, scoring 9 goals in the process and setting up 16 more.

The Englishman played a key role for Steve Bruce’s side as they chased promotion last season, chipping in with 3 goals and 5 assists in 27 Championship outings. He also managed to set up a goal in three playoff appearances but unfortunately, the Villans’ promotion bid faltered.

Villa haven’t made the best start to their 2018/19 campaign and Grealish has also struggled. In 10 matches across all competitions, the 23-year-old has failed to score a single goal but does have a solitary assist to his name.

Things may not be going well for the midfielder in the ongoing season but there is no taking away the fact that he remains a quality operator. He can play either as a No.10 or on the wings and Grealish is known for his ability to ghost past defenders with his exceptional dribbling skills and ball control.

Speed, technique and the knack of carving out opportunities for his teammates make the former England U21 international a danger in the final third of the pitch. The fact that one of the top six clubs in the Premier League were aggressively chasing his signature all summer indicates how talented Grealish is.

Read More: Loaning out this 25-year-old goalkeeper could come back to haunt Aston Villa this season

And by tying him down to a new long-term contract, Villa have ensured that the 23-year-old will continue to blossom at Villa Park for the foreseeable future. And even if the big clubs do come calling, the new contract will place the Midlands outfit in a strong negotiating position, allowing them to get the best possible deal for their prized asset. All in all, this is a brilliant move by Villa.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa must leave no stone unturned in signing this Premier League sensation on loan

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Aston Villa must surely sign Callum Hudson-Odoi on loan

According to a report from Birmingham Live, Championship outfit Aston Villa are exploring the possibility of signing promising Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi on loan in the January transfer window.

The Villans, who recently appointed Dean Smith as their new manager with Chelsea legend John Terry as his assistant, are reportedly planning for the winter window to recover from their tepid start to the season. And they see the gifted 17-year old as a serious loan target. (h/t Birmingham Live)

Hudson-Odoi is regarded as one of the finest talents to come through the Chelsea youth setup in recent years and is held in extremely high regards in and around Stamford Bridge. The teenage sensation has been with the West Londoners since 2007 and broke into the U18 setup back in 2016, doing so at the age of 15.

He went on to net eight times in 25 appearances in his debut campaign, assisting the U18’s to their eighth FA Youth Cup triumph. Following his exploits, the youngster was fast-tracked to the U23s at the tender age of 16. Having continued his impressive run for the U23s, Hudson-Odoi soon broke into the Blues’ senior team and made his first-team debut earlier in January in a 3-0 win over Newcastle United in an FA Cup game.

The 17-year-old was one of the biggest positives of the 2018/19 pre-season campaign for the Blues under new manager Maurizio Sarri.

Hudson-Odoi started the FA Community Shield match against Manchester City at the beginning of the term but that was the last time he took the field for the senior team this season. Instead, he has played four times for the U23s in the Premier League 2, where he has scored and assisted one goal apiece.

Aston Villa are currently placed 15th in the Championship table, having collected just 15 points from 12 games so far (W3, D6, L3). Goals haven’t been much of a concern for the Midlands outfit – they have scored 20 times in the second division, which is the joint fourth-highest tally along with Brentford.

The strikers – Jonathan Kodjia and Tammy Abraham – have scored four and three goals respectively in the Championship and seem to be pulling their weight. However, the lack of similar contribution from the wide areas is problematic for the Villans.

On-loan Everton wide man Yannick Bolasie has impressed with two goals in six games but Anwar El Ghazi has managed just one goal, while Albert Adomah and Jack Grealish are yet to open their goalscoring accounts for the season.

And this is where signing Hudson-Odoi could help the Midlands outfit. The 17-year-old might not have top-level experience but he is a raw talent who could come in and make an instant impact. Able to play anywhere in attack, the teenage sensation has the raw pace and the trickery to pose a serious threat to any opposition. Meanwhile, he showed in Chelsea’s pre-season campaign that he possesses the ability to create chances and score in numbers.

Read More: Aston Villa could resurrect their season by signing this two-time Premier League winner in January

Signing him in the winter window would allow the new manager to ease the burden on Bolasie on the wings, as well as add more firepower and cutting edge to his options in the final third of the pitch. Should there be an opportunity to sign him on loan till the end of the season, Villa must definitely go for it.

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Aston Villa could resurrect their season by signing this two-time Premier League winner in January

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Why Aston Villa must sign Gary Cahill to bolster their defence

According to reports by Evening Standard, two-time Premier League winner Gary Cahill has revealed that he is considering leaving Chelsea in the wake of acceptance that he is no longer first-choice at the club under new manager Maurizio Sarri.

The 32-year-old became unsettled under Antonio Conte last year as well. However, not getting into the regular XI under Sarri has made it clear that he is not an automatic choice for the Italian. As quoted by the report, Cahill stated that it is tough to make decisions to leave a club but one must make these choices to keep their career moving forward.

One Championship club that has made an under-par start to the season is Aston Villa. As a result, they sacked Steve Bruce bearing in mind that the manager wasn’t able to get the best out of his players.

Villa are terribly short on quality when it comes to the centre-back position. They loaned Tommy Elphick out to Hull City in the summer, leaving them with three possible centre-back options, out of which one is a midfielder by trade.

Only Axel Tuanzebe and James Chester are viable options in central defence for the team, with Aussie midfielder Mile Jedinak doing well to adapt to his new role. An unsettled defence can never be good for a team that should be looking to get promoted to the Premier League.

The Birmingham club have already conceded 18 goals in 11 league appearances thus far, which is just not good enough.

Gary Cahill

Hence, getting a player like Gary Cahill, who is a Premier League winner and possesses a ton of experience, would be a great deal. Since the player himself wants out from Chelsea in a bid to get regular playing time, Villa must leave no stone unturned in his pursuit. Villa’s shortage of quality in central defence would help 32-year-old play a significant role.

Verdict

The Championship club had previous Chelsea captain John Terry playing for them last season. His presence certainly helped a lot as they just fell short of promotion, losing in the play-off final. Therefore, getting another experienced player from Stamford Bridge might help them resurrect their stuttering season and bring stability to the defence.

Read More: One win in nine games – Aston Villa have taken a step in the right direction by sacking Steve Bruce

Thus, Villa must go all out to sign Cahill from Chelsea this winter and save their drowning season.

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One win in nine games – Aston Villa have taken a step in the right direction by sacking Steve Bruce

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Why Aston Villa have done the right thing by sacking Steve Bruce

As per reports from BBC, Aston Villa have sacked Steve Bruce after just one win in nine Championship games. Despite leading the club into the playoff final last season, the Villans have struggled for form this term and the 3-3 draw with Preston North End was clearly the final straw.

Aston Villa appointed Bruce as their manager back in October 2016, following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo. Having led the club to a thirteenth place finish in his first season in charge, the former Sunderland and Hull City manager almost led the Midlands outfit to promotion last season.

The Villans finished fourth in the 2017/18 term, accumulating 83 points while scoring the third-highest number of goals in the competition (72). They maintained the third-best defensive record as well, conceding 42 goals. However, they faltered at the final hurdle as they were defeated by Fulham.

Given the circumstances the club found themselves in during the summer transfer window, Bruce did manage to do pretty well in general. However, the decisions to loan out centre-back Tommy Elphick and goalkeeper Jed Steer have proven costly for Villa. Meanwhile, signing Orjan Nyland hasn’t worked out all too well.

Results didn’t go Bruce’s way either, as Villa are currently 13th in the Championship standings. In what has been a dismal start to the season, the 57-year-old faced an immense backlash from the supporters.

The abject display in the 4-1 defeat to Sheffield United at the beginning of the month was one of the biggest lows for the club under Bruce’s reign. The defence was all over the place at Bramall Lane while the team struggled to muster anything meaningful in the attack.

There is no questioning the past achievements of the 57-year old; after all, he has achieved promotion twice each with Birmingham City and Hull City in the past.

However, it does seem like he took Villa as far as he could. While last season’s promotion failure could be accounted to the loss in the playoff finals, one also cannot ignore the fact that Villa failed to capitalize on the chances that came their way to clinch the second automatic promotion spot.

Villa went into the season with a lopsided squad when it comes to the defensive side of things. The Midlands outfit just have one recognized centre-back in captain James Chester and have been forced to use defensive midfielder Mile Jedinak in the heart of the defence.

They are loaded with options in the right-back slot with Axel Tuanzebe, James Bree, Ahmed Elmohamady and Alan Hutton, whereas Neil Taylor is the only natural left-back in the squad. This imbalance has hurt them on a number of occasions this term.

Read More: Aston Villa must not delay and tie this 29-year-old wall down to a new contract – Agreed?

Moreover, there is a clear lack of identity and direction at the club. Building defensively stable teams that rely on a moment of brilliance in the final third to nick points has been the basis of Bruce’s success in the past. However, Villa have been in shambles defensively this season, while their attacking play has also lacked the necessary incision.

With all that in mind, sacking Bruce does seem like a major step in the right direction for Aston Villa. However, to achieve success, they need to sort out a couple of issues as well.

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