The Aston Villa fans have been in buoyant mood in the Transfer Tavern this week since their side returned to winning ways with a 3-0 victory over Reading at Villa Park.
Steve Bruce’s side remained on course to finish inside the playoff places this season as they got the better of a hapless Reading side on Tuesday evening courtesy of second-half goals from Bjarnason, Hourihane and Hogan. The Villa supporters propping up our bar had been teased by the prospect of a potential automatic promotion spot a few weeks ago, but a series of poor results has firmly put an end to that particular dream.
Despite the fact their future is far from certain, the club are already thinking ahead to the summer and identifying a handful of targets to pursue according to The Daily Mirror. According to the report, the Villans are hoping to sign Charlie Austin from Southampton if they are relegated from the Premier League this season, but there is reason to suggest they should target one of his teammates, namely Manolo Gabbiadini (valued at £13.5 million by Transfermarkt).
Charlie Austin has undoubtedly more clinical than the Italian during the current campaign, but Austin’s trouble with injury suggests he would be an incredibly risky acquisition. On the other hand, Gabbiadini has managed to stay fit for the majority of the campaign so far, and his record following his beginning to life in English football suggests he could score the goals needed for Villa to maintain their top-flight status following promotion.
Southampton have been struggling for form throughout the season, so the fact Gabbiadini has only managed to score 4 goals should be taken with a pinch of salt. The 26-year-old striker has the potential to score 15 goals in a single season if he is handed the right level of opportunity to shine, so Villa should hand him that chance to bolster their attacking options.
Villa will need to significantly strengthen their squad if they manage to achieve promotion this season, but they will need to target players with more reliability than Austin, so Gabbiadini would certainly be the more logical target to pursue from the Saints’ forward options.