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With former England captain John Terry now a confirmed arrival, Aston Villa need to quickly follow his capture up with more positive signings if they are to live up to their position as current favourites to win the league.
The ex-Chelsea man will bring real solidity both in terms of his actual play and in terms of his man-management on the pitch. His steadying influence at the back will be a great bonus to Villa this season but if they want to emulate Newcastle and Brighton in going up automatically, they need to have what they both possessed – attacking firepower.
Here are two forward-thinking players Steve Bruce could look to bring in to bolster his team’s promotion push.
Having had two spells at Boro, the former England winger could even be on course for a second spell at Villa. The 32-year-old Downing has been told that he can leave his hometown club this summer, although a fee will be needed to secure his services given that he has two years left on his current contract at the Riverside. Having once signed for Liverpool, Downing has been an outstanding player over the years and can still do it at this level.
Downing has played no less than 408 Premier League games and has 35 England caps under his belt. So like John Terry, he would bring a world of experience to Villa’s ranks if he were to join. Just like with Newcastle on more than one promotion occasion, a simple formula of having Premier League-class players in a Championship team makes for a sure-fire way of climbing this league.
The West London club’s attacking midfielder doesn’t get many headlines around the country, but has obvious quality. Playing mostly on the right-hand side last season for the Bees, Jota managed 12 goals in 19 starts, which is a brilliant record. He added 5 assists to that tally too, meaning he was involved in a goal every 100 minutes in the Championship.
3.4 shots per game, 1.5 key passes and 1.3 crosses show that he is all action and produces the goods every time. Villa are not in the sort of position anymore to turn down quality like this and so if the player is offered to them at the right price, they should snatch Brentford’s hands off.
Jota has been linked with Premier League clubs and naturally will want to see if any bids are forthcoming. But the next best thing for the player is to be involved in the promotion chase and with Villa, he’d feel that it is what he needs to be doing.