When Nassef Sawiris took over Aston Villa in 2018, even he wouldn’t have imagined them to rise so quickly. The Birmingham club was a sleeping giant having forgotten its glory days and been forced to settle down in the Championship. It needed a kick in the back to wake them up. Sawiris (and his money) came like the sorcerer and worked the magic to reignite the flame in the midlands. Slowly but surely his board and the manager and players are guiding Aston Villa to its previous glory days.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) July 26, 2021
Villa are alive again and are dreaming. Thanks to the bucks spent and the players brought in Villa Park has suddenly become an attractive destination. No wonder Emiliano Martinez said he was stepping up when he swapped Arsenal for Villa. When it comes to success on the pitch, they’re not quite there yet. It takes years to build a good squad and Dean Smith is assembling the pieces required. Danny Ings’ capture out of nowhere shows their pull yet again.
Welcome to Aston Villa, @IngsDanny! 🙌#WelcomeDanny
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) August 4, 2021
Leon Bailey became the another addition to the squad for a mouth-watering £30 odd million. Bailey trusted in the Villa project as he chose to ignore the Europa League football offered by Bayer Leverkusen. The lively winger may be a replacement for their star playmaker and captain Jack Grealish. The following days would determine how the saga unfolds.
THE GREALISH SAGA
Jack Grealish is the darling of Birmingham. Born and bred in the city, the lifelong Villa fan is the very embodiment of every youngster’s dreams. Having graduated through their academy he broke into their first team at the young age of 17. Ever since he has gone from strength to strength and even became the club captain along with donning the famous number 10 jersey.
A man of Grealish’s talents always attracts suitors. When Villa were going down into the Championship, the top clubs circled like vultures for Grealish. But the midfielder decided to stick with his club and guide them back. He kept his word as Villa returned to the Premier League in 2019. Grealish played a monumental role as Villa survived relegation on the last day of the campaign in 2020.
👶 Academy star
🌟 Wonderkid sensation
🇨 Aston Villa FC leader
🔥 Premier League hero
🏴 Starring on the international stage
Jack Grealish has the chance to prove he's an Aston Villa legend by staying this summer 🙌 pic.twitter.com/9Ezka4wlPF
— GiveMeSport (@GiveMeSport) July 29, 2021
The last campaign was another feather in his cap as the whole Villa squad raised its game. They impressed everyone with their style of play and were unlucky to finish 11th. Grealish was at the heart of it. This time Manchester City decided to test Grealish and Villa’s resolve. The reigning Premier League champions are knocking on the door with a British record transfer offer. In the prime of his career, he might be tempted to go to Manchester and win trophies.
Though it breaks their heart to see him leave, Villa can’t block the progress of their favourite son. Though the bid has been made no decision has been taken. Grealish is assessing his options and would like to see if he could pursue his ambitions at Villa Park itself. It’s a gruelling month for both the player and the club till the window closes.
NO NEED TO WORRY
Even if Jack Grealish leaves, there’s no need to worry for Villa. Their resurgence won’t be a fluke factor. The club have gone onto address their shortcomings from the previous season. Maybe they had the thought of Grealish leaving in the back of their mind somewhere. They have addressed two key components voided by Grealish’s potential departure. A peak poacher in Danny Ings was brought to provide Grealish’s goals and Emiliano Buendia to replicate his creative genius.
It's time to #WelcomeLeon. 🇯🇲@LeonBailey is an Aston Villa player! 🙌
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) August 4, 2021
Buendia is a Grealish type of player out and out. He is a winger who also loves to go central and pull the strings for his team. He was the MVP in Norwich’s Championship-winning season last time. The Argentine also has Premier League experience, impressing in a poor Norwich side that got relegated and is likely hit the ground running. Leon Bailey is another exciting talent signed to complement Buendia. New signing Danny Ings would be licking his lips at the prospect of service from the midfield.
🔰 Emiliano Buendia was one of two players to register double figures for both goals 𝙖𝙣𝙙 assists in the Championship in 2020/21
🏆 The @NorwichCityFC star is our Championship Player of the Season pic.twitter.com/DmIyjMWbvS
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 9, 2021
They are not done in the window yet. Villa are looking for a top-class midfielder to control the centre of the pitch. James Ward-Prowse is the name touted. The Southampton star won’t be cheap to pry away. With other clubs like Leicester, Leeds and Wolves growing as well, Villa needs to get their transfers spot on.
On the other side, they already have an excellent squad with some promising youngsters coming through. Ollie Watkins hit the ground running last time and will look to keep it up. They have Matt Targett and Matty Cash as their fullbacks whose reputations are growing with each passing game. Ashely Young returns to England to add title-winning experience and provide the depth required from the bench. Dean Smith should get his tactics right to get the best out of this unit. Villa must aim for European places next season and a deep run into the cup competitions.
THE EGYPTIAN MONEY NOW?
A multi-billionaire takes over a club, assembles an expensive and star-studded squad and wins the league. Sounds familiar? It should. Manchester City’s success in the last decade has been a stellar story for others to follow. With the investment coming in from Qatar, City never compromised on the quality and became one of the most successful teams in the league.
#OnThisDay in 𝟮𝟬𝟭𝟴, Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris injected significant investment into Aston Villa Football Club.
An incredible three years of progress, both on and off the pitch. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/8pps16egh5
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) July 20, 2021
This can inspire Villa to be ambitious as they can draw parallels with the City story. Nassef Sawiris, an Egyptian billionaire bought the club from Tony Xia in 2018 along with Wes Edens. He had the vision to invest in a Villa team that would reward his faith. Since then he has backed them immensely both on and off the pitch. After guiding them back to the top flight, he shelled huge amounts on new signings like Wesley and Douglaz Luiz. The owner also focused on developing the academy with an eye on saving millions in the future.
Though money doesn’t equate to success on the pitch, one can’t deny its role in the modern picture. Having wealthy owners won’t let the club suffer much. In this pandemic riddled market, we’ve seen how few clubs have failed to sustain in the first place. Villa are nowhere close to that unfortunate situation. Instead, they’re backed by an ambitious Sawiris who wants to scale the old heights.
Ahead of the new season, they are the architects of their own future. They can either make good use of the money spent and backing provided to awaken the inner beast or be branded as one season wonders. But the initial signs are Aston Villa would be back to their glory days like the old and mighty Birgimham club that ruled Europe and England.