When Aston Villa were promoted back to the Premier League two years ago, we should’ve had a clear head start on a fellow sleeping giant who’d only just returned to the big time after a few seasons away.
A couple of years later, they’ve not only enjoyed an impressive 2020/21 season that had them looking like potential contenders for European qualification until an end-of-season slump, but are now pulling off signings we could only dream of under Mike Ashley.
Not only have they announced a club record deal to sign Argentine star Emi Buendia from newly promoted Norwich – outbidding Arsenal in a move that could be worth £40m after add-ons – it’s emerged that they are now pursuing Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse; a possible double signing that could take their spending since promotion to £300m.
Although we may have picked out a few gems in Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson – one from France and the other from a relegated Bournemouth – it’s fair to say we have never shown the sort of ambition and financial muscle required to cherry-pick some of the best Premier League players from clubs outside the ‘big six’.
This is something a club of our stature should be aiming towards, yet we are offering a one-year deal to a striker who has scored one goal in two years, all while Aston Villa open up their wallets in a bid to pull off an exciting double deal worth a potential £70m.
Keep in mind, this is an Aston Villa side who spent around £140m the summer they got promoted, along with another £90m to secure the likes of Ollie Watkins and Emi Martinez ahead of a 2020/21 campaign that had them pushing for Europe until injuries hit them hard.
Sadly, the contrast between Aston Villa and Newcastle today sums up how desperately we need ambitious new owners and no more Mike Ashley – a man who has allowed us to slip so far behind a host of clubs who weren’t even in the top flight a few seasons ago (Wolves, Villa, Leeds, to name a few).
While Villa outbid ‘big six’ clubs and assemble a squad that’s built around keeping Jack Grealish at the club, we’re sat wondering if any major investment would only come after the sale of our star man, Allan Saint-Maximin.
A sale can’t come quick enough.