The word sales in the title may not be appropriate in the case of much of the Villa squad, with as many as 6 or 7 players seeing their contracts expire in the summer. It seems the likes of John Carew, Isaiah Osbourne and Moustapha Salifou are all surplus to requirements under the Houllier regime with the former currently impressing on-loan at Stoke, something he failed to do for the first half of the season at Villa. In terms of players who will be out of contract in the summer there are a few with whom their future at the club remains unknown.
Brad Friedel and Nigel Reo-Coker have seen their contracts allowed to virtually expire which is not a good sign for them, but these are two of the supposed cluster of players who, in my opinion, thoroughly deserve a renewal. Friedel is almost 40 but still pulling off the saves capable of a youth keeper and although he may have ‘dropped the ball’ on the odd occasion this season, what keeper doesn’t? Reo-Coker is someone that I have completely changed my views upon. His energy is superb and he appears to have added to his game with and ability to keep the ball under pressure. Last time out he completed 96% of his 73 passes, a rate that Xavi would be proud of! However, I fear that these two may be let go to relieve the wage bill.
Veteran midfielder Robert Pires has pleaded his case for a new deal at the club after a decent showing against Blackburn, and will be hoping that Houllier’s happiness to rotate will afford him more chances of the ilk. However, the signings of Jean Makoun and Michael Bradley, who is yet to start a game for the club, could be clear indicators that the French managers short-term move for the wily ex-Arsenal man was exactly that. Short-term.
Along with the 6 aforementioned potential departures, the likes of squad players Brad Guzan, who was allowed to leave on loan to join Hull in January, and Shane Lowry, who is currently out at Sheffield United, could also be released. The American stopper has had very minimal chances to impress under Houllier despite showing real ability in numerous cup appearances last term. A slight vulnerability from crosses may be the big man’s main weakness, though ridding of him and compatriot Brad Friedel would see the probable need for at least 2 new goalkeepers to join ahead of the next campaign.
A big area of debate lays around the future of messus Warnock, Beye and Ireland. All three have come to blows so to speak with the new management, with the latter being allowed to join Newcastle on loan just 5 months after entering Villa Park. I believe that getting rid of such talent in Stephen Ireland without giving him the opportunity to play in a run of more than two games could be costly. I know his commitment has come into question but it is frustrating to see quality fail and I don’t feel that he is damned to. As for Warnock and Beye, the former was dismal up until being dropped and clearly wants out so let him as far as I’m concerned. The less said about Habib Beye, the better. Just awful in my opinion but maybe I’m being harsh!
What do you think? Who should stay and who should go? Is there anyone else on the list you see leaving in the summer that might surprise a few (Ashley Young not really counting as a surprise!)
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