Dean Smith’s side are splashing some serious cash over the summer as they eye a successful return to the top-flight
Promotion to the Premier League has been worth an estimated €189 million (£170m/$216m) for clubs and that’s a figure Aston Villa are very quickly putting to good use.
After beating Derby County in the Championship play-off final, Dean Smith hasn’t wasted any time rebuilding his squad with current off-season spending for the club sitting at a stunning €93 million (£83m/$104m).
Villa have managed to splash more cash than any other club in the Premier League. Manchester City’s spending has been currently a three million shy of Villa’s, despite their pricey acquisition of Rodri.
To put the Lions’ extravagant spending in even more perspective – they’ve spent more than Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton combined over the past few weeks.
After losing a dozen players at the end of the season, Villa’s stocks were in need of serious replenishing and the club have done just that in efficient, albeit expensive fashion.
Brazilian striker Wesley has cost the most of any arrival to date with Belgian side Club Brugge netting €24 million (£22m/$27m) for the 22-year-old, who scored 17 goals across all competitions last season.
While he spent big for a striker, Smith has primarily invested in his side’s back line, with many millions devoted to ensure four defenders have so far arrived at Villa Park.
After impressing on loan last season, Bournemouth centre-back Tyrone Mings has been brought back permanently with two other central defenders, Ezri Konsa and Kortney Hause, also signing on.
Southampton left-back Matt Targett rounds out Smith’s defensive reinforcements to date with Reims centre-back Bjorn Engels reportedly close to becoming Villa’s fifth new man at the back.
Two right wingers in the form of Jota and Anwar El Ghazi then compete Villa’s transfer moves so far, with the club clearly intent on ensuring a smooth transition back to the Premier League.
The club’s signing spree has been only set to continue, with Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz agreeing a €16.5 million (£15m/$18m) move, according to the BBC.
Money has been of course no guarantee of a successful return to the first division, with Fulham infamously spending well over €100 million last summer but still slumping straight back to the Championship.
Smith has however seemingly learnt from the Cottagers’ mistakes by completing the bulk of his transfer dealings early, rather than leaving them to the last minute.
Fulham signed seven players in August last year with five of those deals completed on deadline day, as the club hastily looked to make itself a side capable of staying in the top-flight.
Unsurprisingly a number of those signings made in the madness of deadline day failed to impress, with club-record signing Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa failing to justify his price tag.
While Villa have acted swiftly, their deals have also been done with much more clarity and much less desperation.
Mings, for example, played a key role in the club’s promotion after joining on loan for the second half of last season. While he never really impressed for the Cherries, Mings hit the ground running with Villa and Smith knows exactly the type of soccer professional he’s bringing back.
“We’re really pleased to have Tyrone back at Aston Villa on a permanent basis,” Smith said.
“I think everybody could see the connection that he made with the club as a whole and it has been excellent news that we can continue the relationship in the Premier League.
“He will be an integral part of the squad for the new season and I look forward to working with him and helping to further develop his game.”
Former Brentford defender Konsa has been another known entity for Smith, with the duo previously working together with the Bees.
“Ezri fits the profile of the type of soccer professional we were searching for,” Smith said.
“It helps that Richard O’Kelly and I have worked with him before. He’s a high-potential soccer professional who I believe can step up to the Premier League and I’m really looking forward to working with him again.”
The biggest gamble from Smith comes in the form of Wesley, a young striker yet to truly be tested in Europe, with Villa breaking their club record to bring him to England.
Breaking out with Slovakian side Trencin, the Brazilian moved to Belgium in 2015 where after a slow start he began to fire fairly freely, hitting double figures over the past two seasons.
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Whether he can produce in the Premier League remains to be seen though and it’s safe to say he’ll be carrying a fairly heavy burden for the club this season.
Along with the players Villa have brought in, Smith has also managed to keep star soccer professional Jack Grealish at the club with the 23-year-old showing his worth last season after returning from injury.
Arriving back in the top-flight after three seasons in the Championship, Villa look like they mean serious business and they’ll be hoping their significant investment doesn’t end in what would be another very costly relegation.