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Aston Villa signing this 26-year-old Croatian with £3.4m release clause would be ideal to shore up midfield options

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Aston Villa Opinion: Why Dean Smith should go all out to sign Josip Vukovic?

According to a report from Calciomercato, Aston Villa have expressed an interest to sign Maritimo ace Josip Vukovic, who has also attracted the attention of Lazio and Rangers.

The Croatian midfielder, 26, has been a regular fixture for Maritimo after joining from Olimpik Donetsk last summer. He has made 19 appearances for the Portuguese side, who currently sit 13th in the table.

Josip Vukovic has a release clause worth £3.4million, which is a fee Aston Villa should be able to pay to bag his signature at the end of the season. And Dean Smith should do everything possible to beat the likes of Lazio and Rangers to lure the midfielder away to Villa Park.

Aston Villa are in a moment where they are destined to miss some of their first-choice midfielders. The likes of Glenn Whelan and Mile Jedinak have their contracts expiring at the end of this season, and they haven’t signed an extension yet. Furthermore, Jack Grealish is unlikely to stay at Villa Park if the club fails to achieve promotion, meaning Villa could potentially lose three midfielders this summer.

Thus, the Midlands need reinforcements in the midfield department ahead of next season and Dean Smith would be wise to sign Josip Vukovic. A youth product of HNK Hajduk Split, the 26-year-old is a defensive midfielder by trade, known for his physicality, tough-tackling and reading of the game. His work rate and contribution off the ball is impressive, to say the least.

The former Croatia Under-19 international is always on the move and brilliantly picks up a pocket of space where can receive the ball. Vukovic is technically sound and his quick understanding of the game allows him to recognize the threat around him and act accordingly. A very good passer of the ball, the 6ft ace likes to keep things simple and tidy in the middle of the park.

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Vukovic is an excellent tackler and never gets afraid to throw his body on the line, whilst possessing the ability to intercept the opposition’s play. He protects the backline very well and Villa definitely need someone like the Croat, considering how poor defensively they have been all season.

Verdict

Vukovic certainly has the qualities to quickly adapt to the Championship. On the whole, the Croatian midfield enforcer could be the ideal like-for-like replacement for Whelan at the end of the season.

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Aston Villa

Analysing Aston Villa’s summer window so far – how Smith can use his new signings

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Aston Villa opinion: How Dean Smith can use the new signings

After a remarkable comeback in the second half of last season and winning the playoff final, Aston Villa are back in the Premier League and look good to stay here for some time.

While the January loan signing Tyrone Mings from Bournemouth proved to be one of the many turning points of the season, the change in management was probably the masterstroke that worked wonders.

Under Steve Bruce, Villa were playing decent football but were far too inconsistent to remain in the playoff race. As a result, when he left the club, they were in the second half of the table.

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From thereon, Dean Smith took charge. Along with the assistance of John Terry, he has turned things around at the club. The former Brentford boss seemed to have instilled that never-say-die attitude into every player, which was very evident in the latter half of the campaign.

Now, with the first step done, the next stage is a toughie, where the manager needs to build a team capable of staying in the Premier League.

So far, the Villans have done a good job in terms of signing players, especially knowing the fact that they need quality squad depth in order to last the distance in the English top-flight.

Let’s take a look at the four signings made and how Smith can install them into the starting line-up:

Wesley Moares – Striker

Tammy Abraham was the club’s leading striker throughout the course of last season. But he is now back to his parent club Chelsea and could stay there to fight for a place in the first-team.

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Thus, it was vital for Aston Villa to sign a quality centre-forward to replace the Englishman. They did just that by acquiring the services of Wesley Moares from Belgian side Club Brugge.

With 13 goals and 7 assists in 38 league appearances last season, the 22-year-old seems to be an ideal man to replace Abraham as the striker of the team.

Anwar El Ghazi – Winger

The Dutchman played the whole of last season on loan from Lille and did a good job in the wide areas. He initially struggled to get into the team on a regular basis when Steve Bruce was in charge.

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But a change in the management brought about an enhancement in the 24-year-old’s game. He turned out to be one of the key players in the latter half of the season, including the playoff final.

It was a no-brainer that Dean Smith and his men kept him on a permanent basis. Now, expect the winger to be a regular feature for Villa in the Premier League.

Jota – Playmaker

Jota was an important signing because Villa needed someone to support Jack Grealish in the creative department. His numbers have been excellent in the past 18-24 months and there is no reason why he would not succeed in the Premier League.

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With the Spaniard now in the team, Dean Smith may play him and Grealish together as a number 10 duo, with John McGinn as a progressive ball-winning number six in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Kortney Hause – Defender

Kortney Hause is a very good signing in terms of defensive cover as he can play on either side of central defence and is comfortable operating at left-back as well.

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With centre-back Axel Tuanzebe returning to his parent club and Neil Taylor requiring support at left-back, the England U21 international can do the job for Dean Smith.

Areas to be strengthened

While the signings made so far have been good, Aston Villa still need to complete the signing of Tyrone Mings, who is expected to join them (h/t Birmingham Mail).

They also need to sign a backup for right-back Ahmed Elmohamady, with Alan Hutton leaving the club. Furthermore, Wesley Moraes may need some support at the top and thus, signing another forward wouldn’t be a bad idea.

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Aston Villa’s defence would become one of the strongest by signing this underrated 33-year-old Premier League star

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Aston Villa Opinion: Why the Villans should make a move for Tom Heaton?

According to a report from the Sun, Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton has rejected a new contract amidst interest from Aston Villa and Bournemouth.

Heaton, 33, who has just 12 months remaining on his Burnley deal, impressed after reclaiming his first-team spot last season, earning a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Nations League finals.

Sean Dyche is keen to reward Heaton with fresh terms after his impressive performances in the second half of last campaign, but both parties have been unable to come to an agreement thus far, leaving the goalkeeper’s future in doubt. Nick Pope penning a new long-term deal at Turf Moor could play a part in Heaton not agreeing on a new contract.

Aston Villa and Bournemouth are in need of a new goalkeeper, but it’s the latter that should sign Tom Heaton from Burnley.

The Villans have not wasted much time in making their presence felt in the summer transfer window. Having already signed four players, Dean Smith remains hungry for more and interest in Heaton means he isn’t confident with his goalkeeping department ahead of the Premier League season.

Orjan Nyland was Villa’s no.1 when Smith replaced Steve Bruce at Villa Park. To compete with Nyland, the Villans signed Lovre Kalinic from Belgian outfit Gent in January. However, Nyland’s injury saw Smith recall Jed Steer, who was on loan at Charlton Athletic.

Kalinic quickly replaced the injured Nyland but his time in goal was brief as he was replaced by Steer in February. Whilst the Croatian lost his place because of a concussion he suffered against West Brom, Steer starred between the sticks and played a crucial role in Villa’s promotion. Now, Steer has signed a new four-year contract with the newly-promoted club.

As far as Kalinic is concerned, his Villa career has not really got out of the starting blocks and it would perhaps be something of a relief for Dean Smith if he was able to offload the towering Croat, with French outlet 20 minutes claiming Nantes are interested in a loan swoop for the shot-stopper.

If Smith decides to part ways with Kalinic after only six months, then that would leave him with Steer and the currently injured Orland as Villa’s two senior-goalkeeping options.

That won’t be enough for a team heading into the Premier League in 2019/20 and therefore, signing Heaton would make complete sense.

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The 33-year-old is a reliable shot-stopper with plenty of Premier League experience and Villa would do well by having such an experienced goalkeeper on their books. Heaton is unlikely to cost a lot because of his contract situation and if Smith can promise him regular first-team football, signing the England international won’t be much of a problem.

Verdict

A calming influence and a leader on the pitch and off it, Heaton would be a brilliant addition for Smith’s Aston Villa.

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Bristol City signing this 27-year-old Aston Villa star would help them launch a successful promotion push

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Bristol City Opinion: Signing Scott Hogan could be a decent piece of business for the Robins

According to Birmingham Live, Bristol City have been credited with an interest in Aston Villa striker Scott Hogan in the summer transfer window, with reports claiming that Robins manager Lee Johnson is looking to bolster his attacking options.

Bristol City were linked with the 27-year-old back in January but Hogan opted to join Championship high-flyers Sheffield United on loan instead. (h/t Birmingham Mail)

However, as the reports suggest, the Robins’ interest in the Salford-born forward is likely to resurface this summer, with the 27-year-old’s future at Villa Park still unclear, following the club’s promotion to the Premier League.

Hogan made just 6 substitute appearances for Aston Villa in the Championship in the first half of the previous campaign before moving out on loan to join Sheffield United in January.

The 27-year-old’s stint at Bramall Lane proved to be a fruitful one, as the Irishman contributed with 2 goals and an assist in 8 Championship outings to propel the Blades to the Premier League for the first time since 2006-07.

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A youth product of Rochdale, Hogan featured for a multitude of non-league clubs, including the likes of Woodley Sports, Halifax Town, Ashton United and Hyde before returning to his boyhood club ahead of the 2013-14 season. Hogan netted 19 goals in 40 appearances in the 2013-14 campaign to propel Rochdale to a third-place finish third in League Two and his prolific form earned him a coveted move to the Championship with Brentford back in the summer of 2014.

It was at Griffin Park that Hogan rose to prominence and carved out a big reputation for himself in the Championship, scoring 14 goals in 25 appearances for the Bees in the first half of the 2016-17 season before being snapped up by Aston Villa in January 2017. A move to Villa Park, however, didn’t particularly work in his favour, and Hogan slipped down the pecking order at the club after finding the net on only 6 occasions in the 2017-18 campaign.

Hogan’s Villa career was probably over last season itself, and now that the Lions have secured promotion to the Premier League, it is highly unlikely that they would consider the 27-year-old as a viable option in the top-flight next season. Sheffield United were believed to be interested but the Blades too are looking at better striking options.

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To put things into perspective, it won’t be a bad idea for Bristol City to offer Hogan an escape route this summer, although he is still under contract at Villa Park until 2021 and the Robins won’t be able to get their hands on him for free. The 27-year-old’s time at Aston Villa hasn’t been a fruitful one but his previous goalscoring exploits at Brentford should prompt Bristol to make a move for him.

Bristol City will be looking to go one step further in the Championship next season and secure a playoff spot after the Robins finished 8th last term and narrowly missed out on a top-six finish. While defensive reinforcements are likely to be a priority for manager Lee Johnson, following the departure of Lloyd Kelly to Bournemouth and loanees Jay Dasilva and Tomas Kalas to their parent club Chelsea, bringing in someone like Hogan would certainly bolster their attacking unit.

Famara Diedhiou hit 13 goals in the Championship last term, while Andreas Weimann was another key contributor with goals and assists up front. Matty Taylor and Jamie Paterson also chipped in with some valuable contributions but the Robins need a little bit more depth and quality in their attack to enhance their chances of securing a playoff spot next season.

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It is true that Hogan won’t be much of an upgrade on Bristol’s existing options up front but the Robins might as well look at the 27-year-old as someone who could add a bit more experience and depth to their forward line. And, if he manages to rediscover the kind of prolific form that he showed at Brentford, the Robins could have a gem on their hands for a pretty reasonable price.

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All in all, the fans at Ashton Gate probably won’t be too excited to hear about the club’s links with Scott Hogan but signing the 27-year-old could prove to be a shrewd piece of business for the Robins.

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