Mike van der Hoorn would be the ideal solution to Villa’s defensive woes
According to an earlier report from the Sun, Aston Villa were interested in signing Swansea City centre-back Mike van den Hoorn before the transfer deadline but the Lions were reluctant to stump up a staggering £10 million for the Dutchman.
However, Villa are likely to go all out for the 26-year-old in the summer, with the Dutchman set to be available for free upon the expiry of his current contract. Dean Smith’s side struck a deal with Swansea for midfielder Tom Carroll before the transfer deadline but they should make Mike van der Hoorn their top priority in the summer.
A youth product of Dutch club FC Utrecht, Mike van der Hoorn starred for his boyhood club in the Eredivisie, winning the club’s Player of the Season award for the 2012-13 campaign. After helping Utrecht qualify for the Europa League, the Dutchman won the Eredivisie title with Ajax in his debut season at the club. He didn’t really make his mark in the first team due to stiff competition for places and a move to Swansea City in 2016 resurrected his career.
Van der Hoorn has been a regular at the heart of the defence for the Wales-based outfit in the Championship this term, starting each of the club’s 30 games in the second tier. The former Dutch U21 international has established himself as one of the most solid central defenders in the Championship and a move to promotion hopefuls Aston Villa next summer would help him take his career to the next level.
Standing at 6ft 3in with a towering frame, Van der Hoorn is known for his physicality and aerial prowess as a centre-back. To add to that, he has an extremely calm and composed head on his shoulders, with figures showing that he has been dribbled past only 9 times in the Championship this season.
He is the sort of defender who likes to keep the opposition at bay with his positioning while clearing his lines when deployed in a deep defensive line. Furthermore, he has shown that he is quite adept at playing out from the back, which is certainly an added bonus for the team.
To put things into perspective, he would be a welcome addition to Aston Villa’s squad in the summer irrespective of whether they manage to secure promotion. The Lions currently sit 8th in the standings, just three points behind Bristol City for the final promotion playoff spot.
The defence has been one of the major areas of concern at Villa Park this season. Dean Smith has done a fair job after taking over the reins from Steve Bruce but he hasn’t been able to stem the flow of goals. James Chester has been too inconsistent at the back while Axel Tuanzebe has also blown hot and cold.
Tommy Elphick has been called upon at times while Mile Jedinak has also been in the mix but neither of them have been able to provide that solidity to the backline.
The defenders have not only been caught out of position several times but they have been sloppy in possession as well, allowing the opposition to capitalise on lapses in concentration. Mike van der Hoorn, on the other hand, has had a wonderful season so far and he might turn out to be the perfect man to answer Villa’s prayers. That said, they should go all out to land him next summer.
Aston Villa reviving interest in this 26-year-old defensive midfielder would be a shrewd move and here is why
Aston Villa Opinion: should the Lions sign Nemanja Radoja for free
Back in January, a report from Spanish outlet El Desmarque claimed that Aston Villa were closing in on the signing of Celta Vigo’s Serbian international midfielder Nemanja Radoja. However, a move to Villa Park did not quite materialize for the La Liga ace and he stayed put at Celta Vigo, with his contract set to expire in the summer.
The 26-year-old defensive midfielder rose through the youth ranks at Serbian club Vojvodina and made 69 appearances for his boyhood club from 2011 to 2014, helping his team to victory in the Serbian Cup.
The Serb joined Celta Vigo in 2014 and has made a total of 146 appearances for the Spanish outfit in all competitions, scoring once and assisting a further five, though he hasn’t featured in a single game in the 2018-19 season.
The 2-cap Serbian international is not one of the household names in Europe but he has plenty of La Liga and Europa League experience, which should attract a lot of clubs in the summer when his contract at Celta Vigo expires.
Villa missed the chance to snap him up in a bargain deal in January but they might get the chance to have another crack at the 26-year-old in the summer, given that he hasn’t signed a new deal and is likely to be available for free at the end of the season.
Essentially a defensive midfielder by trade, Radoja is a useful all-around player with good tackling and intercepting skills, while also possessing an impressive passing range.
The Serb doesn’t offer a lot in terms of attack but he excels with his intelligent distribution and cuts out the opposition’s attacks to win the ball back for his team. Good in the air and pretty quick across the ground, Radoja is an all-action midfield enforcer who retains possession well and holds things together for his team in central midfield.
To put things into perspective, Aston Villa would do themselves a world of good by reigniting their interest in the 26-year-old Serbian midfielder and the chance to lure to Villa Park for absolutely nothing should appeal to the Lions.
Radoja, though, is likely to have plenty of suitors when his contract expires and Villa would have to work extremely hard to convince him to join the club. The job might be easier if they manage to secure promotion to the Premier League.
The Lions have got themselves back in the promotion playoff race with a series of impressive performances since the start of the last month, winning each of their last 8 games in the Championship.
The acquisition of Kortney Hause from Wolves and Tyrone Mings from Bournemouth has helped Smith shore up his team’s leaky backline, which was a major area of concern for the club earlier in the season. With momentum on their side, Villa have a great chance of securing promotion to the Premier League if they manage to keep up the intensity.
However, they would need to dip into the transfer window in the summer for reinforcements irrespective of where they play their football next season.
Defensive midfield is one area where Villa lack depth and quality. John McGinn and Conor Hourihane have provided stability to the midfield, while also contributing with some valuable goals and assists, but Villa do not have a quality holding midfielder to shield the rearguard.
Birkir Bjarnason has fallen down the pecking order while Glen Whelan and Mile Jedinak are both above the age of 34. Henri Lansbury has struggled for form and fitness and the Lions just don’t seem to have too many alternatives in that position.
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Hence, the arrival of someone like Radoja would solve a key issue for Dean Smith and Villa should look at the possibility of getting their hands on the Serbian for free in the summer.
Aston Villa would do the right thing by offering this talented 30-year-old a new contract soon – Agreed?
Aston Villa Opinion: Lions should offer Ritchie de Laet a new deal
The 30-year-old is out of contract in the summer and reports claim that the former Man United man has already attracted interest from the scouts of some of the rival teams, as the possibility of him being without a club at the end of the season looms large.
De Laet has been somewhat of an unfamiliar figure at Villa Park, having managed only 16 appearances for the Lions in all competitions since his move from Leicester City in 2016.
He suffered a season-ending injury in his very first season at the club and fell out of favour in the subsequent campaign under former manager Steve Bruce. The Belgian was shipped out on loan to Melbourne City by Bruce last September and he has been a forgotten man at Villa Park ever since.
However, the former Belgian international has managed to score 7 goals from 23 appearances in the A-League, making him an instant hit Down Under. The versatile defender has rediscovered his form, and with time running out, Villa need to make a decision on his future before the end of the season.
To be honest, de Laet hasn’t done much wrong at Villa Park, with injuries proving to be a major Achilles Heel in the 30-year-old’s progress at the club.
The fans should have some pity for him as he was ridiculously underused by Bruce, with the former manager never really giving him a fair crack of the whip to establish himself in the first-team following an injury-plagued first season.
Although de Laet made only a handful of appearances for Man United earlier in his career, the Belgian has a really good CV in English football.
The 30-year-old was an integral part of the Leicester City side that won the Championship in the 2013-14 season and also made 12 appearances in the Foxes’ 2015-16 Premier League triumph. The 30-year-old is a hugely experienced and proven performer at both the Championship and Premier League levels and it is hard to see why Villa would not want to keep him.
To put things into perspective, Villa should not waste any time in offering the veteran a new deal to extend his stay at Villa Park.
Still only 30, de Laet has a lot to offer at the highest level and the Belgian can be a useful squad player for the Lions irrespective of whether they secure promotion to the Premier League or stay in the Championship to challenge for promotion yet again.
Villa looked totally vulnerable at the back earlier in the season and shipped far too many goals, which is one of the reasons why they do not find themselves in the automatic promotion places.
However, the arrival of Kortney Hause and Tyrone Mings on loan from Wolves and Bournemouth respectively has not only solved their defensive conundrum but has also been a telling factor in their rise to the playoff places.
Villa do have the option to sign Hause permanently at the end of the season but the future of Mings is still up in the air, while Man United loanee Axel Tuanzebe will be expected to return to Old Trafford once his loan deal expires.
Strong on the tackle, dominant in the air and a good reader of the game at the back, de Laet is capable of playing in multiple positions across the backline and his presence would provide Dean Smith with quality cover at right-back, centre-back and left-back.
He is also capable of chipping in with some valuable goals and assists and his experience might prove to be a useful asset to the Lions.
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Given his experience and versatility, De Laet would not be short of potential suitors in the summer and Villa would be foolish to let him depart for absolutely nothing at the end of the season.
Aston Villa should not hesitate to raid Championship rivals and sign this prolific 23-goal hitman
Aston Villa Opinion: Neal Maupay would be an excellent signing for the Lions
According to the Mirror, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield Town are interested in signing Brentford forward Neal Maupay in the summer, with the Bees’ star showcasing his prolific nature in front of goal in the Championship this season.
The 22-year-old Frenchman has contributed with 23 goals and 7 assists from 40 appearances in the Championship this term and has been pivotal to Brentford’s success. However, with the Bees unlikely to finish in the promotion playoff places, they might find it difficult to keep hold of their star striker.
Maupay, who made his move to Griffin Park from French side St. Etienne for a fee of £1.6 million in the summer of 2017, has been a real revelation in the Championship and reports claim that Dean Smith is keen to reunite with the promising youngster at Villa Park, having previously worked with the Frenchman at Brentford.
The 22-year-old has established himself as a bona-fide goalscorer in the second-tier at Brentford and a move to either of the aforementioned clubs would be an ideal step in his career.
While Villa and Middlesbrough are fighting for the playoffs this season, Huddersfield will also be expected to challenge for promotion next season, having already been relegated from the Premier League.
Maupay has all the parts to make the step up to the Premier League in the coming days and would undoubtedly be a good signing for any promotion-chasing club.
To put things into perspective, Aston Villa would bag a massive coup if they manage to beat off competition from their rivals to get their hands on the coveted young prospect in the summer. In fact, the Lions should complete a swoop for the Brentford ace irrespective of where they play their football next season.
Tammy Abraham has been in blistering form at Villa Park this season, with the Chelsea loanee netting 24 goals in 36 games in the Championship so far.
The Englishman has quickly established himself as a firm fan favourite but his future still remains up in the air as Villa are likely to struggle to retain his services even if they manage to secure promotion.
The Lions do not have a quality back up for Abraham and that is exactly why the club’s links with the prolific Neal Maupay should be an exciting proposition for the fans.
Maupay lacks the aerial ability of someone like Abraham due to his relatively short stature but the Frenchman knows exactly how to combine his technical abilities with his upper body strength, not only holding the ball with his back to goal but also creating chances with his penchant for playing key passes in the final third.
Blessed with good instincts and awareness, Maupay not only has the ability to get into scoring positions inside the box but he excels with his link-up play as well.
Moreover, he can also fill in the boots of an attacking midfielder, with his versatility, quick feet and vision allowing him to operate as an attacking midfielder through the centre or out wide on the flanks.
The 22-year-old has averaged 3.3 shots and 1.3 key passes per game in the Championship this season, figures which underline his impact on the game.
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Villa currently sit inside the promotion playoff places following their recent resurgence in the Championship and the Lions might have a better chance of getting Maupay on their books if they manage to make it to the Premier League.
Brentford are unlikely to let him depart on the cheap but Villa’s financial muscle might give them an upper hand in this deal.
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