World Cup Watch: Spurs man one of three for Aston Villa to target
It is fair to say that Aston Villa haven’t previously been a club to use the World Cup as a big scouting ground towards strengthening their squad.
In fact, since 1994 Villa have only made two summer signings directly after a World Cup tournament, with Paul Merson arriving from Middlesbrough in 1998 and Swedish striker Marcus Allback signed from Heerenveen in Holland in 2002.
However, with the current squad in serious need of improvement and the high likelihood of a new owner replacing Randy Lerner that will provide some money to spend, this could be the time Villa do look to the World Cup for on-field solutions.
Below are three players that would fill especially problematic positions and just as importantly, would probably be interested in a switch to Villa Park.
With Ryan Bertrand now returning to Chelsea after his half-season loan stint, Villa will need Joe Bennett to step up on some average displays since being bought from Middlesbrough or decide Ciaran Clark or Nathan Baker could shuffle over to left-back from central defence.
Ron Vlaar aside, Villa are a young defensive unit and only the three relegated clubs conceded more Premier League goals this season.
Jores Okore’s expected return after missing the whole of the season with a ruptured cruciate ligament should help tighten up the defence, although some added experience would also be of use.
Assou-Ekotto was allowed to leave Tottenham on loan this season and should QPR fail to win their Championship play-off final with Derby, he is even more unlikely to remain at Loftus Road.
His Premier League knowhow would be a big asset to Villa.
The one position Paul Lambert has never managed to recruit at Villa is finding the club a playmaker, with Kiyotake and Norwich’s Wes Hoolahan the pair that were most sought after in January.
The Japanese international is still under the radar somewhat compared to compatriots Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda, but his playmaking at Nurnberg resulted in eight assists this season, enough to make the top 10 in this field in the Bundesliga.
His accurate crossing could be an additional asset if Villa manage to hold on to leading striker Christian Benteke for a third campaign.
The feeling was that Benteke would be gone after this season, but the fact he will miss the World Cup with an Achilles injury could reduce his number of suitors this summer.
But should he leave, Kokorin may prove a useful replacement, as his goals could still fire Dinamo Moscow to a top-four finish in Russia this season.
He has averaged a goal or an assist in all 10 starts leading the line for his club this season, while his danger on the counter attack would fit nicely into Villa’s chosen system.
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