If I’m being 100% honest, I wasn’t expecting much money for the transfer window, so getting over £30m was a huge boost. I needed strengthening in a couple of key areas. Priorities were, a new winger, centre back and centre midfielder. I’d probably be able to get a striker as well with sales of the dead wood. Enzo Pérez had already been signed before I joined so I’ll need to see how he fits into the plan.
Before I put up the list of transferred players, there were a couple of contracts up that would free up some wage funds. Micah Richards, Idrissa Gueye and Rudy Gestede all left the club, freeing up almost £100,000 a week. Neither of these players were first choice and I decided to get rid. Plenty of other young players also departed due to not being good enough or being out of contract. I’ll not go through them all as the reasoning is the same.
It’s quite a long list, but I can lump some of them together. The following players were in the reserves when I joined, most weren’t injured and none appeared in the games that I played. Moustafa Zeidan, Joshua Brenet, Ashley Westwood, Jordan Veretout, Sergio Escudero, Keinan Davis, Omar Elbadellaoui, Adama Traoré, Atila Turan, Alex Pritchard and Ciaran Clark. All left for small fees, but it gave me some wage capital to balance things out on transfers.
Kasper Kusk headed out after being transfer listed towards the back end of the season due to lack of game time. £6.75m seemed a decent fee for someone I considered to be a squad player.
Marcos Alonso was a bit of a tough one as he’s a decent player, but I preferred the option of Ryan Bertrand at left back with Rico Henry as backup. £9m was a £1m profit on a player signed 3 years earlier.
Theo Bongonda I could have kept, but I knew he was only a backup option. £7m was only a £500k loss on a player signed 12 months ago.
Ángelo Henríquez is actually a pretty solid striker, but with a few good options in the striker department, I decided to let him go. £9m is a good feed too. He only joined last season, but was sold for three times more than he signed for.
Wissam Ben Yedder was another striker heading out the door. He only joined in January but he wasn’t for me. Inter offered £8m and I duly accepted. A £5m profit for 7 games.
Federico Fernández was the central defender I wanted to replace as I wasn’t overly convinced with him. Good in the air, but lacked a little bit of speed that I’d perhaps need if we flooded forward. £3.9m was decent business for someone going back to Argentina.
I didn’t want to sell Neal Maupay as he had done well for me in the games he’d featured in. Newcastle made a good offer and off went another player who only spent 12months at the club. £8.5m with potential future monies based on appearances.
Stefano Denswil had done average since I joined so I’d seen enough of him to let him go. He’ll get games at Levante and that pleased me, £3.1m.
Overall, I raked in £66.45m from sales. After a few sales sorted the bank balance out, the board advised me that I could have 100% of the transfer income.
I made six new signings in my first transfer window, which was a realistic number as I can get a bit carried away when bringing players in.
Javier Ontiveros was the first signing I made. I needed a tricky winger and with Sheffield Wednesday being relegated, he was itching for a move. He’s fast, can cross and can get past players with ease. He’s also able to play on both sides of midfield, which is perfect for me. I paid £9m for him and I think that was good business.
Kristoffer Ajer is a well known Football Manager wonderkid. I had him for a short time on my Schalke save. I never had him for long enough to really see him grow. He joined for £22m from relegated Leicester. He’s still only 21, so has a few years of development ahead of him. I can see him controlling the midfield with his passing and power. Him and Wanyama are going to bully opposition midfielders with their strength.
With Maupay on his way out, I needed another striker. I wanted someone English in the squad. I’m a big fan of Danny Ings in real life. His work rate is something I really love. He can play either of my striker roles and he knows where the goal is. He cost me £15m, but I’m pretty happy with that deal.
I had looked at about five central defenders before settling on Edoardo Goldaniga. He’d been available after not getting enough games at Juventus. £5.5m was a pretty good fee for such a good defender.
When I joined Villa, they only had Michael Keane and Micah Richards as right back options. Keane is more of a central defender who can play on the right if needed. I raided Leicester again, this time for Petar Stojanovic. He’s a reliable right back and he cost me £8.5m.
My final purchase was a “Plan B” option. Well, it wasn’t really, but it’s how it would be considered. When I setup the system I’m using, I really wanted a tall target man to smash balls forward to. A big lump that could hold up the ball. He’d maybe not play every game as a target man, but I wanted the option. I finally got my man in Charles Roussel. He’s young, tall, athletic and handsome. What more could you want? He can play as a deep lying forward too, so he’s flexible about his role. He cost me £13.5m with further add ons depending on appearances.
That took our total spending to £73.5m for the year. A significant sum of money, but in the Premier League, it’s peanuts.
Hopefully these guys will fire me to a top half finish. Squad looks like this now.
Back soon with a round up of my first full season in charge.