Championship side Aston Villa have confirmed the signing of Lovre Kalinic from Gent on a four-and-a-half year deal.
The Croatian goalkeeper, who has been a long-term target for the Championship club, is scheduled to join them during the upcoming transfer window after the club agreed on a £14m package with their Belgian counterparts.
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith claims that the team has to adapt to several challenges that may come their way. Just after the international break, Aston Villa head back into the domestic competitions to take on a local rival in the form of Birmingham City. It is a game of great magnitude for Smith, who has just replaced Steve Bruce as the new Villa boss. After having picked up a crucial 3-0 success over Derby County in one of the best performances of the season, Smith will have reasons to be confident that his team can do well in this first Midlands derby experience for him as a manager at Villa.
Smith does not expect the free-flowing football seen at Pride Park to be repeated in this game because local derbies are always extremely difficult. Furthermore, Birmingham have also been in a good frame of mind over the last few months and this has enabled them to make up several places in the league table. Aston Villa, though, last suffered a loss against Birmingham back in 2005 and they have since been unbeaten in 12 matches against their local rivals. The difference between the two clubs in the Championship this season’s only goal difference. Smith does not have a lot of injury problems but the club’s preparation has been affected by internationals.
Aston Villa striker Jonathan Kodjia has said that he is finding joy of playing again after making a complete recovery from a serious ankle problem. The Ivory Coast international missed the vast part of the previous season with the injury and he ended the campaign with just nine league appearances, where he contributed a solitary goal.
However, he has made a fluent start for the new season with three goals already scored from just six matches and speaking to CAF’s official website, he revealed his pleasure of playing regularly once more, he said: “I gradually regained form after a very difficult period last season. A serious injury forced me to rest for several months. Today, I find the joy of playing again. As proof, I've scored three goals since the beginning of the Championship. In any case, I want to make up for lost time, both for my club and national team.”
Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce says that the club may have to end up selling Jack Grealish before the end of the transfer window. The 22-year-old is one of the prized assets for Aston Villa and he will fetch the highest price among any of the current players. The midfielder has been able to get nine goals in his 92 games for Aston Villa. After losing in the play-off final against Fulham last season, Aston Villa need to make up a significant sum of money – around £ 40 million – in order to meet the Financial Fair Play regulations.
Bruce says thatGrealish is certainly a special talent who could improve Aston Villa leaps and bounds. However, the club are being left with little option but to sell him. Tottenham are being linked with a move for the midfielder, who could cost as much as £ 40 million. Aston Villa have gone through a horrendous time over the last few years. Apart from the relegation into the Championship, the club also failed to get back into the Premier League in the first time of asking. This is expected to cost the club around £ 160 million in potential revenue. In addition to this, Villa were unable to meet a £4 million payment for tax related purposes in June. All these have increased the financial pressure on Villa, while owner Tony Xia insisted that the club is not for sale.
Aston Villa assistant Colin Calderwood has said that the club are behind Steve Bruce as he returns from a difficult week in his personal life. The 57-year-old witnessed the death of his mother in the week just past and he has since got to know the news of his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who is under intensive care in the hospital.
Former Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker believes Jack Wilshere should turn his back on Arsenal and pursue a fresh challenge elsewhere during the summer. The England international has reached a contract impasse at the north London club, and there is a huge possibility that he could leave on a free transfer in the summer.
Former Liverpool midfielder-turned-pundit Jamie Redknapp has suggested that Aston Villa have made one of the signing of the Championship season in the form of skipper John Terry. The former England international returned from a foot injury at the turn of the year, and he has been crucial to their drive to secure top-flight promotion.
Despite a slow start to the season, the Villains find themselves right in the mix for an automatic promotion bid, and Redknapp, speaking to The Mail, believes Terry has been the key influence behind the club’s successful run, he said: "Aston Villa invested in Terry, now 37, by taking on his wages and if they get promoted to the Premier League, he will have been worth every penny. What you don’t see is the influence he has in that dressing room. A bad atmosphere can set in but it only takes one or two lads like JT and that can soon change. Villa are third in the Championship and their new leader can go down as one of the signings of the season."
Aston Villa’s first season in the Championship for 30 years did not go to plan for the Midlands outfit, finishing in the bottom half of the table. Under the ownership of Tony Xia, the Villans invested heavily in the transfer market, turning over the squad that was relegated from the Premier League with a pitiful haul of 17 points in the previous campaign.
Despite an outlay of over £80m, the club were unable to even threaten an immediate return to the top flight. Roberto Di Matteo lasted only two months as manager before he was replaced by former Birmingham boss Steve Bruce following their club’s dreadful start.
Aston Villa fans have not had much to cheer about over the last 18 months, however, the appointment of Steve Bruce as manager of the club has already brought optimism around Villa Park. Bruce has been in charge of the club for three games so far and has been able to bring two wins and a draw from those three fixtures.
His first game in charge was a home derby against Wolves. Villa showed plenty of fight in that tie. They were outplayed by a very good Wolves team at times but Bruce’s men were able to stay in the game and showed the character needed to come away with a well-earned point.
For the first time in the history of Aston Villa, they have been relegated from the Premier League and will now have to compete in the English League Championship.
After having gone through such a disastrous season, a lot of changes have been happening and the biggest change was the takeover as the Chinese businessman Tony Jiantong Xia acquired Aston Villa for a price tag of £60m.
The new owner of Aston Villa has recently stated what he is planning to do with the English club as Xia said: "The most critical thing now is to get the right manager. We need a really good coach who knows how to play in the Championship. It's even harder than the Premiership. We need to figure out how to reorganize the team.''