Premier League stalwarts Aston Villa’s recent budgetary constraints have been all too apparent, especially since owner Randy Lerner almost had his fingers burnt off paying the best part of £20m for Darren Bent in 2011, but a partial relaxation may be in store for boss Paul Lambert this winter.
Since the Glaswegian took over at Villa Park two-and-a-half years ago, the Midlanders’ net spend has been around the £45m mark, a trifle for a club of their size. Hull have spent about as much, while QPR and West Ham’s outlays have been significantly greater.
The bits and pieces of transfer business Lambert has managed during his tenure have almost exclusively come during the summer; Yacouba Sylla’s £2m purchase from Clermont in January 2013 is still the only winter window transfer Villa have made since Bent.
With Sylla currently on loan at Turkish side Kayseri Erciyesspor, having made just 22 Premier League appearances during his 18 months in England, it’s fair to assume Villa fans won’t be holding out much hope for new faces in the new year.
However, according to recent whispers Lambert is weighing up a move for Fiorentina attacking-midfielder Josip Ilicic, who has reportedly been ‘offered’ to Villa by La Viola.
The 26-cap Slovenia international left Palermo for Florence in a £6.5m transfer 18 months ago, after notching 10 times in his last 19 2012/13 Serie A appearances, but that goal-scoring form hasn’t held up at the Stadio Artemo Franchi.
Ilicic found the back of the net just thrice in 21 Serie A matches last season, 13 of which he was on from the off, and the former Maribor man has only struck once in 10 appearances, including five starts, this term.
Those numbers won’t faze Villa too much, judging by the punt they took on Czech striker Libor Kozak, who had scored just 10 times in 58 league games for Lazio prior to a £5m switch to the Midlands during the same summer Ilicic moved to Fiorentina.
With Kozak and Christian Benteke still out though injury and suspension respectively, Villa’s goal-scoring woes look set to continue at home to second-placed Southampton.
Lambert’s men have only found the net once in their last six games, with two blanks registered on their own patch during that run. Saints are 23/20 to keep a clean sheet at Villa Park.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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