To be quite honest, I didn’t think I’d make it this far with Villa, I saw it as a short term rebuilding process that would occupy me until something more interesting popped up. The change of tactic took us into the Champions League for this season, so I thought I’d at least see that through.
Not a whole lot of business to be done this year as the squad overall is in a good way. A couple of players on their way out and only a handful of arrivals to strengthen the squad for the coming campaign.
I had a huge budget thrown at me by the board.
I had a £400k p/w wage surplus if I needed adjustment.
Danny Ings was a really good player for us, but he would have a lot of peaks and troughs. With the signing of Abbott last season knocking him out of his place, I decided I’d try and bring in another striker this summer. I moved Ings on for £5.25m, which was a fair loss on what I paid, but with the goals he scored, I suppose it evens itself out.
Virgil van Dijk left had already signed a pre contract deal with Sevilla in January. He barely played in the first half of last season, but was ever present for the second half. I’d certainly have been happy to keep him around, he made up his mind though.
Patrick Roberts was another player I couldn’t guarantee game time to. He’d done really well since he arrived for free, I had other ideas for the team though. He had a couple of offers, but decided to join Stuttgart for £5.5m.
In January, I had a big decision to make about one of my star players. I couldn’t really reject the offer though. Man City offered me a deal worth £16m for Kristoffer Ajer, I was offended by the offer and negotiated it up to £47.5m as a sort of ‘leave him alone’ type of thing. To my shock, they agreed. I couldn’t really turn that offer down. Off he went.
Marcus Rashford was the first arrival of the summer. He had found himself transfer listed at Man Utd and with me looking for a pacy striker to fight for a place with Abbott, it seemed like a perfect fit. The bonus was that he was English and at £10.5m, he wasn’t hugely expensive. Not only is a decent striker, he can offer me something different in attacking midfield should I feel the need to change things up a bit.
Next through the door was Jesús Vallejo, a player I’d been tracking since I was at Villarreal. As with Rashford, he’d found himself surplus to requirements as Arsenal no longer needed him. I liked his skillset and thought he’d be a good defensive option. He’s not the tallest centre back, but he makes up for it mentally. A bargain at £6.5m I think.
You’ll think I’m making this up. Gonçalo Guedes was surplus to requirements at Chelsea. In my hunt for another right winger, it was sort of the obvious choice. How could I pass up signing one of the players I’d heard so much about? The fee, £7.25m.
I spotted this next guy in January and I’ve been lusting over him ever since. Gonçalo is a young Portuguese monster. Still only 21 and still developing. It took being a bit of a bastard to get him for a decent price. Sporting wanted £81m when I first put in a bid. I was gutted. It turned into a bit of a saga as I kept telling the press how much I wanted to sign him to unsettle him. It worked and he said he was disappointed at not being able to join us. They lowered their price and I got him for £25.5m plus add ons. It’s a new record transfer.
Really happy with my transfer business this season. Quality signings in that will strengthen the squad for not a huge amount of money.