Villa, Norwich, and Newcastle will be playing in the Championship next season. Just to confirm that, the Mags have been relegated. By thrashing Everton, we secured survival and relegated Newcastle. Once more then, we sent the Mags down. Oh what a night!
With that in mind, I thought it would be prudent to take a look at two players from each of those three squads that I wouldn’t mind seeing in red and white next season. I take on board that too often we have favoured quantity over quality. And that ‘bargain bucket’ shopping is not the most appealing way to spend the £120m TV deal money. I also realise that many fans look at players who have been relegated and think it must be in their DNA. However, I’m going to try to argue the case for buying players from these three relegated clubs.
I’m not saying we should blow our whole transfer budget on these players. And, realistically, we are likely to return to France to try to uncover another Wahbi Khazri and/or Lamine Kone’s twin brother. But I do think that all six of these players could offer something new to our squad. Furthermore, one centre-back and one winger in particular could have a significant impact on our starting eleven.
Jordan Ayew (Aston Villa)
You may look at this Villa team and think there are no players worth taking a punt on. And you may be right. However, I think we could do a lot worse than bid for Jordan Ayew. Our pursuit of his brother, Andre, was well documented in January; Jordan offers similar attributes and would be available for a fraction of the price. He can play wide left, wide right, behind the striker, and as the lone striker. In fact, even as part of a stinking Villa side, he managed a strike rate of 5 goals in 14 appearances when playing in the number 9 role. That is a record not to be sniffed at. If signed, he would most likely be used as a utility player and as an option from the bench. However, he could also challenge Borini’s wide right position. In that role, he completed an average of 2.3 successful dribbles per game and won 2.1 aerial battles per game this season. If you compare that to Borini who only completed 0.9 successful dribbles per game and won just 0.9 of his aerial duels too, you can see why he was one of few shining lights in this Villa season.
Micah Richards (Aston Villa)
I don’t expect this to be a popular choice. Micah Richards turned us down in favour of Villa this summer gone and has under-performed throughout the season. However, if the rumours are true, he turned us down because he wanted to define himself as a centre-back and not a right-back. If he can be convinced otherwise, I think he would be an excellent right-back under Big Sam. Our struggle to find a decent right-back has been the one constant in my life (not including Bernt Haas obviously, I love you Bernt). When DeAndre Yedlin returns to Spurs we are left with Billy Jones and Adam Matthews. Gulp. Micah Richards is fast, strong, and dangerous from set-pieces. He can also offer natural cover for the centre-backs. Richards has actually made more tackles, interceptions, and clearances per game than Younes Kaboul despite playing poorly this season. Important to note here that when I got these stats, Who Scored hadn’t been updated after last night’s game – when man of the match Kaboul made interceptions on a par with Bruce Willis and the asteroid in Armageddon.
Steven Naismith (Norwich)
Moving onto Norwich now, and another player who - like Jordan Ayew - would offer natural cover for all forward positions. Perhaps even more than Ayew, Naismith strikes me as a Big Sam signing. Waspish when out of possession and direct in possession, Naismith would provide excellent back-up to Khazri. I do have concerns over the fact he moved for £8.5m only five months ago and has managed just one goal in eleven appearances for the Canaries since then. However, at 29, he may be desperate to play his remaining peak years in the Premier League so is a player we should keep on our radar.
Timm Klose (Norwich)
I am a big fan of Klose. I honestly believe that had he been playing against us rather than Bassong, we may not have won that crucial game at Carrow Road last month. He has been that important to Norwich since they signed him for £9m in January. He is an absolute beast at the back, leading their defensive stats with 2.4 interceptions per game and a whopping 10.2 clearances per game. To put that in perspective, our best performing defender since January (by a mile), Lamine Kone has only made 2.2 interceptions and 9.1 clearances per game. Who Scored rate Kone’s Sunderland performances at 7.12 and Klose’s Norwich performances at 7.21. Now imagine them together at the heart of our defence with Kaboul as cover. I hope Big Sam lies awake dreaming about that too. Or maybe he isn’t as sad as I am.
Gini Wijnaldum (Newcastle)
Finally, moving on to the Mags. Wijnaldum has had a piss poor second half to the season and he doesn’t seem to enjoy playing away from the Wonga Arena. In fact, all 9 of his league goals have come at home. He also has five assists this season and anyone with eyes can see that he is a very good footballer in a very poor side. If Big Sam feels that he could harness Wijnaldum’s best attributes in a number 10 role behind Defoe, and make him more consistent, he may be worth a bid or two this summer. Just 25 years old, he has his best years ahead of him. Newcastle spent £15m on him last summer and I wouldn’t be disappointed if we bought him for a slightly knocked down price. Because we can.
Andros Townsend (Newcastle)
I would be delighted if we made Townsend our number one priority this summer. When the Mags bought him for £12m I thought they had overspent. In reality, it looks like they got a bargain. Particularly when you compare his transfer fee against the £8m and six year contract they offered to Montpellier and Remy Cabella respectively in 2014. Since Townsend arrived at Newcastle, he has led the way in terms of goals, assists, chances created, and shots on target. Townsend’s shot accuracy is an impressive 80%, which is the best in the Premier League amongst players with at least 10 shots. Put simply, he has been Newcastle’s best player by a mile since January. I think that having Townsend on the right and Khazri on the left would be a joy to behold. Please Sam, please make that happen.
Agree/Disagree? Do you think there are other players from those teams that would improve our side? Comment below.