Bonjour, Aston Villa.
Tim Sherwood signed two more French-born players on Friday as he has continues to spend the $62 million Villa received for selling Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph this summer on French imports.
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Villa has so far brought in nine new players this offseason, as Sherwood looks to boost a squad that finished just one place and three points above the relegation zone last year.
Jordan Veretout, 22, became Villa’s fourth signing from a Ligue 1 club this summer — following in the footsteps of Jordan Ayew, Idrissa Gueye and Jordan Amavi — with the Nantes midfielder arriving for an undisclosed fee on a five-year deal. Veretout has made 146 appearances for Nantes since making his debut in 2011 and won the U-20 World Cup with the national team in 2013. The youngster can play in central midfield or is equally adept moving forward into the No. 10 role and he was previously a target for Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
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As for Villa’s other signing on Friday, Rudy Gestede arrived from Championship side Blackburn Rovers with the 26-year-old signing a five-year deal. Gestede scored 22 goals for Rovers in England’s second-tier last season and was heavily linked with a move to Crystal Palace in January. Gestede played three times in the PL when his former club Cardiff City were promoted in 2013-14 but the Benin international striker (who played for France’s youth teams) will now play a much more prominent role for a PL club. Gestede will be a replacement for Benteke, as the powerful forward can hold the ball up and bring others in to play.
So, are Villa spending this money wisely? They have gone for the part-Newcastle, part-Liverpool approach in terms of their spending this summer. Like Newcastle did a few years ago under Alan Pardew, they’ve seen a market in Ligue 1 which has players who are playing at the top level week in, week out, but are available for cheap transfer fees and wages. But, this scattergun approach to replace two or three big signings doesn’t always work out. See: Liverpool last season, and you can bring Tottenham into this conversation too, as they spent the money they received in September 2013 for Gareth Bale on a large quantity of players, rather than top quality.
Sherwood had to overhaul Villa’s roster, but picking up so many youngsters who have no experience in the PL is a gamble.