The Aston Villa fans in the Transfer Tavern are hoping their side will continue with their push to reach the play-offs once they return to action after the international break.
After a relatively slow start to the season, Villa have began to cement their place in the top-six of The Championship in recent weeks with a string of impressive performances and results to match. However, as soon as optimistic hope of making a late push for the automatic promotion spots began to surface, The Villans recorded back to back defeats against QPR and Bolton Wanderers which all but ended that particular dream.
Despite this, Villa still have a fantastic opportunity to clinch promotion via the playoffs this season, and if they do indeed manage to achieve their ultimate aim they will need to strengthen their squad during the summer transfer window. Villa’s goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has been a revelation this season since he arrived on loan from Manchester United last summer, and his form suggests the club would be wise to sign him on a permanent deal once the campaign reaches its conclusion.
But it must be considered that Villa could be priced out of a move for Johnstone, or that an established Premier League club will rival them for his signature during the transfer window. With that being said, Villa should be exploring their options ahead of the summer and forming a shortlist of goalkeepers who could potentially arrive at the club.
One player who should certainly be on Steve Bruce’s list of candidates to replace Johnstone is Manchester City outcast Joe Hart (valued at £10.8 million by Transfermarkt), as he should be available at a cut-price when he enters the final year of his contract.
Hart has struggled for form since he was effectively exiled by Pep Guardiola following his arrival at City in 2016, but his failure to rediscover his old form can partially be explained by the manner in which he was so swiftly disposed of by the Spaniard. Hart is in desperate need of a permanent move to a club where he can rebuild his confidence under a manager who is willing to place their trust in his ability, and Villa could certainly be that club if they clinch promotion this season.
There was a time when Hart was one of the world’s top goalkeepers, and at 30-years-old there is still plenty of time for him to rise to that level once more. After another disappointing season at West Ham, it’s likely that his next opportunity in English football will be his last to prove himself at the top level, and Villa represents the ideal environment from which to do so providing they are promoted this season.