Leon Bailey Signs for Aston Villa
There’s little doubt that Aston Villa publicly announcing their deal for Bayern Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey was fast-tracked a few days, since according to the club’s very brief statement, the player hadn’t even agreed personal terms yet.
‘Aston Villa and Bayer Leverkusen have reached an agreement for the transfer of Leon Bailey subject to the player completing a medical and finalising personal terms.‘
As we saw with Emiliano Buendia, the club are no stranger to an early announcement, but in that case, the player was on the other side of the world playing in the Copa America and only a medical was needed to finalise the deal.
With the heat turned up on Jack Grealish’s future, after it was reported that Manchester City finally made the move they had been threatening for the past month, some saw Bailey’s early announcement as a distraction tactic.
MOMS read it as serving two purposes – a show of strength and ambition to both the Villa fanbase and Grealish himself.
While Christian Purslow had indicated to the Villa Fan Consultation group earlier in the summer that this would be a transfer window of maybe two or three additions, you got the feeling that if Villa were to legitimately kick-on, then they’d need to be top draw marquee signings and more bodies were perhaps required considering the demands of the World Cup qualifiers and the African Nations Cup, which could leave Villa potentially short of personnel at times.
If Grealish captains Villa in the forthcoming season, with Buendia and Bailey alongside him and Ollie Watkins, then Villa’s current odds of 11/2 for a top-six finish this coming season, could be seen as a good opportunity, especially if there’s any further additions.
Pumping Up the Attack
Sir Alex Ferguson infamously once said, “attack wins you games, defence wins you titles”. In the context of Villa, their defence backed by one of the best goalkeepers in the world, now provides a backbone to build a foundation for success on. Last season, their 15 clean sheets was only topped by Manchester City and Chelsea.
Last season it was a lack of sustained threat going forward that cost them, especially when Grealish was injured, both in matches against the bottom six (where Villa picked up only half the available points) and when opportunity knocked against the big boys.
Towards the end of the season, without Grealish, Villa found themselves 1-0 up against Liverpool and both the Manchester clubs, yet went on to lose all three games. If Villa had the threat of Buendia, Bailey and Grealish on the pitch, it’s likely they would have come away with at least a few points on the board, after being in winning positions.
The Midfield Question Mark
Villa arguably need an upgrade more centrally in midfield. In January, Villa picked up midfielder Morgan Sanson from Marseille, who had originally been slated by Villa’s recruitment team to be a transfer for this summer. While from the evidence we’ve seen of him so far, he visibly needed to get up to speed to the Premier League, injury curtailed any potential progress.
Will he appear in 2021/22 like the proverbial new signing? And fill that midfield need?
The early reports of offers to Emile Smith-Rowe and James Ward-Prowse seemed to be red herrings in recent weeks, when you take a step back and consider would either be likely?
If Arsenal rated Smith-Rowe, he was clearly not going anywhere. Would Villa really fork out circa £30m for a 21-year-old with barely 20 Premier League games to his name? Were they just used by Smith-Rowe’s agent to bump up Arsenal’s offer to his client?
Meanwhile, considering Ward-Prowse had signed a new contract just last August until June 2025, Villa would have to seriously over pay both the Saints and player to get him to move to B6. Maybe Villa had been in for him last year, hence the Saints rush to sign him up to a new contract.
Buendia, Bailey and Ashley Young, are certainly impressive names to bolster the Villa ranks, but the big excitement for Villans is if they’re playing alongside Jack Grealish.
Certainly, whether Villa get another name in or not, they’ll be a different proposition from last season and a European challenge will very much be the bottom line.
New deal for Grealish?
Grealish turning up at the weekend to Villa’s six-day training camp down south is a positive sign that there’s currently no done deal with Manchester City.
A lot has been said about Grealish’s situation and MOMS will address it properly in the forthcoming podcast episode 157 (out later today), but for now, remember this…
This is not like the previous Gareth Barry, James Milner or Fabian Delph situations, where City simply swooped in with their oil money like the Apex Predator of the Premier League and picked off our best players with ease.
They will be met with stern resistance like never before.
When MOMS met the Villa owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris, when they first took over the club, MOMS asked Wes Edens why he chose Villa over Inter Miami, who he had been in talks with.
The first two words of his reply were “Champions League”.
That’s their perceived destination for the club and you wouldn’t bet against them, with or without Grealish.
Aston Villa‘s Transfer Activity
Emi Buendia – Norwich, £38m
Ashley Young – Inter, free
Leon Bailey – Bayern Leverkusen, circa £30m
Ahmed Elmohamady – contract expired
Tom Heaton – Manchester United, free
Neil Taylor – contract expired
Bjorn Engels – Royal Antwerp, undisclosed