January transfer window ins and out at Aston Villa

Posted by Kevin Hughes

Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty ImagesAston Villa may look to Norwich City's Wes Hoolahan to bulk up their midfield.

This will be a crucial transfer window for Villa, as manager Paul Lambert acknowledges the need to add experienced players to his young squad in a bid to halt a worrying dip in form. The problem, as always, will be meeting the salary demands of such established players -- Lambert revealed the disclosure of one target's wage expectations nearly made him "fall off his chair".

Villa's midfield needs strengthening, so that is where Lambert's priority lies this January, and he'll be looking for either an attacking playmaker -- that No. 10 style of footballer which continues to elude the club -- or a midfield dynamo who can dictate play. Or both. Wes Hoolahan, who played under Lambert at Norwich, has been linked, as has another Canary, Jonny Howson. The Villa manager may go back in for the Bulgarian, Ivelin Popov, who was a target in the summer.

A relatively new option is the Belgian schemer, Steven Defour, who is frustrated at Porto and has spoken of his desire to move. Lambert has also indicated he'd be willing to take on loan deals, which could open the door for an approach for Tottenham's Gylfi Sigurdsson, another creative midfielder.

In terms of other positions, Villa may need a winger. Manchester United's Wilfried Zaha has been linked, while another loan option would be Chelsea's Kevin De Bruyne. An interest in Ashley Young, the former Villa man, seems far-fetched though.

Finally, with concerns over the fitness of captain Ron Vlaar and Villa's ongoing struggles at left-back, some defensive reinforcement could be on the cards. Again, Lambert may look for something short-term. Tottenham's Younes Kaboul would do a steady job for the remainder of the season at centre-back, while Sebastien Pocognoli, a left-back with Bundesliga club Hannover 96, is reportedly the subject of interest, too -- initially on loan.

Although he doesn't fit into the experienced category, Swedish centre-back Pontus Jansson would be a bargain at around 1.5 million pounds. Currently at Malmo, Jansson was linked with Villa earlier this winter. Another long-standing target is 6-foot, 6-inch centre-back/right-back Abdoulaye Ba, on loan at Vitoria de Guimaraes from Porto.

Don't expect many departures from Villa in January, although the club will definitely entertain any offers -- loan or permanent -- for out-of-favour right-back Alan Hutton. Goalkeeper Shay Given has already had his loan deal at Middlesbrough extended until the end of February; reserve goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist and left-back Enda Sevens are also staying with Burton Albion and Doncaster Rovers, respectively, for a further month.

There is also likely to be a loan move for Nicklas Helenius, the Denmark striker. Helenius was signed by Lambert last summer but has found opportunities limited, and has barely had a crack in the first team. A change of scene is a possibility.

There could be one or two surprise departures. Charles N'Zogbia, sidelined all season with an Achilles injury, has been linked with a switch to Sunderland, while left-back Joe Bennett, another who has hardly featured for Villa in 2013-14, may find his future lies elsewhere.


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.