Aston Villa's Transfer Window: Grading the Villans' January Deals

It's fair to say that ​Aston Villa have had a mixed season so far. Embroiled in a relegation scrap for almost the entirety of the campaign, the Villans can also boast a trip to Wembley in the diary in the form of the League Cup final. 

However, their priorities in the January transfer window were primarily dictated over the course of a single game against Burnley, which acted as a perfect microcosm of Villa's contrasting season so far.

On New Year's Day, Dean Smith's side ran out 2-1 winners at Turf Moor, gaining three points which lifted them out of the relegation zone. While this should have been a joyous result, Aston Villa's goalkeeper Tom Heaton and their main striker Wesley, both suffered season-ending knee injuries. 

Tom Heaton

This month has seen the Midlands club attempt to replace these key players, along with fellow long-term absentee John McGinn. So, now that the transfer window is firmly closed, and the fax machines have been safely returned to the storage cupboard, gathering dust until the summer rolls around, let's have a look at who they brought in and assess how these purchases have fared early on.

Danny Drinkwater - C

The former Leicester City ​Premier League champion didn't exactly start life well in a Villa shirt, gifting the ball to Manchester City as his former teammate, Riyad Mahrez, lashed in the second of six goals on his debut.

And while there have been suggestions Drinkwater wasn't completely fit for the match against the defending champions, he hasn't set the world alight in the two following games and was left out of the squad which faced Bournemouth on the weekend.

Since leaving Leicester for Chelsea in 2017, Drinkwater has made only 16 Premier League appearances, and turns 30 in March. With his peak years behind him, the midfielder is undertaking extra fitness training and more gym sessions to make up for the time he's lost.

Perhaps he will rediscover some semblance of the form which saw him anchor a midfield to Premier League glory and earn an England call-up, but the early signs have been rather less optimistic.

Borja Bastón - C

In a desperate search for a striker to replace the stricken Wesley, ​Aston Villa somewhat surprisingly turned to Borja Bastón. 

Bastón is yet to make an appearance for the Villans so judging how he'll perform in claret and blue has to be based solely on his rather uninspiring track record.

The former Swansea man can boast some Premier League experience, but not much. Over the span of 18 games in England's top flight three seasons ago, the Spaniard scored a single goal.

His performance in the Championship has been more impressive, with six goals to his name from 20 appearances this season, but even that doesn't exactly set the pulses racing. 

Louie Barry - B

Louie Mark Barry

It's very hard to assess how good the transfer of Louie Barry is given the lack of top level football the 16-year-old has played. Yet to play a competitive match at senior level, Barry performed well enough in the Under-18 Premier League to earn a move to Barcelona's youth side.

Yet playing time in their Under-19 side has been hard to come by this season, as Barry joins Aston Villa having failed to start a single game for the Blaugrana.

While this move may have little impact on their fight for survival, signing a promising teenager who was born in Aston is going to win over even the most sceptical Villa fan. Couple his place of birth with his previous time spent at Midlands rivals West Brom and this move acts as any easy win for the Villa hierarchy. 

Mbwana Samatta - B

Mbwana Samatta

In another attempt to replace the injured Wesley, Villa went down the same route they did to acquire the Brazilian's services in the summer - the Belgian top flight. 

Mbwana Samatta arrived at Villa Park on 20 January for a little under £10m. During his time in Belgium, Samatta contributed to a goal every other game across four years with Genk and started life in England in a similar vein, scoring on his Premier League debut against Bournemouth. 

At 27-years-old Samatta is in the peak of his career and with Jack Grealish enjoying the form of his life, he shouldn't struggle for ample service, it's just a question of whether he can score the goals to keep Aston Villa in the top flight.

Pepe Reina - B

Pepe Reina

Having acted as the Spanish national team's chief cheerleader during the most successful period of their history, if nothing else, Pepe Reina will certainly instil a positive morale in the dressing room. 

Yet, alongside that good will, Aston Villa may have secured the signature of a former great with some crucial performances still in the locker. The 37-year-old is still waiting for his first clean sheet between Villa's sticks, but he was part of the side which secured the vital four points against fellow strugglers Brighton and Watford.

However, both of​ Bournemouth's goals in Saturday's 2-1 defeat were potentially preventable, as Reina got a hand to the Cherries' first before parrying a shot at the feet of Nathan Aké.

​While criticism for those strikes may be harsh, where Reina will really prove his worth is at set pieces. No side in the Premier League has conceded more goals from the dead ball than Aston Villa this season, with seven goals from corners a particular concern. 

Should the Villans entertain any hope of staying up, this glaring weakness must be eradicated, and Reina will have a large part to play should this be rectified.

Source : 90min