Seventeen points adrift at the basement of the Premier League, and currently enduring a run of eleven successive defeats, Aston Villa have experienced their darkest season in recent history. With fans protesting against American owner Randy Lerner almost every home match, Villa Park is sure to be an unhappy place over the summer months.
It is a given these days that relegation releases clauses in contracts allowing players to escape the clutches of their newly relegated club. Many players also choose to find first team football elsewhere, higher up the English league pyramid. Either way, footballers rarely brave the cold, and remain at a newly demoted club. Here are three players that will look to jump Aston Villa’s sinking ship in the coming months.
Jordan Ayew has been one of very few bright sparks in a dismal Villa campaign. The Ghanian forward began the season strongly netting five goals prior to the busy Christmas period. Despite enduring a four-month baron spell, the 24-year-old son of African football legend Abide Pele is sure to attract interest from fellow Premier League outfits. Ayew’s more physical brother Andre has adapted to the boisterous environment of the Premier League much sharper than Jordan, and it could take a second shot for the former Marseille man to make his mark.
Jores Okore arrived three seasons ago as one of Europe’s most promising central defenders. Having made his international debut for Denmark at the tender age of 18, Okore was the name on many fans lips at Villa Park. Still just 23, the athletic defender has plenty of breathing room and time to improve and maybe return to the Premier League as a much improved player.
The great Dane has refused to play since being dropped at Swansea in March, and with the relegation already confirmed I can’t see him returning any time soon. Denmark’s failure to qualify for the Euro 2016 Championships in France means he will have little chance to impress potential employee’s and make an exit from Villa Park.
A graduate of Crewe Alexandra’s infamous youth academy, Ashley Westwood, may be looking to apply his trade elsewhere next season. Primarily a deep lying midfield, but versatile enough to operate higher up or at right-back, Westwood signed a five-year contract extension in January. His pinpoint passing and leadership qualities means he is sure to attract interest from mid-lower table Premier League clubs. There is no doubt the 26-year-old would dominate and be an instrumental part of Aston Villa’s engine room next season. But Westwood is in his prime, and with England caps being handed out like they’ve gone out of fashion, a move could be on the cards in order to achieve this dream.