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Aston Villa

Valued at £25m, Aston Villa and West Ham could have got Benjamin Pavard in 2016

The Stuttgart defender is wanted by top Premier League sides.

Mathew Nash

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This week has seen Stuttgart defender Benjamin Pavard linked with a move to the Premier League. The 21-year-old is reportedly a target for both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Bild reported this week that the Bundesliga side will not be considering any offers below €30 million (£26.5million).

It is a fantastic rise up the ranks from the Frenchman. After coming through the youth set-up in France with Lille he headed to Germany in 2016. The youngster helped Stuttgart win promotion back to the Bundesliga where he has now been showcasing his best form. Such form saw Pavard even earn his first French international call-up.

Stuttgart’s French defender Benjamin Pavard (R) and Dortmund’s forward Maximilian Philipp vie for the ball during the German first division Bundesliga football match VfB Stuttgart vs BVB Borussia Dortmund in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, on November 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / THOMAS KIENZLE / RESTRICTIONS: DURING MATCH TIME: DFL RULES TO LIMIT THE ONLINE USAGE TO 15 PICTURES PER MATCH AND FORBID IMAGE SEQUENCES TO SIMULATE VIDEO. == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == FOR FURTHER QUERIES PLEASE CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY AT + 49 69 650050 / RESTRICTIONS: DURING MATCH TIME: DFL RULES TO LIMIT THE ONLINE USAGE TO 15 PICTURES PER MATCH AND FORBID IMAGE SEQUENCES TO SIMULATE VIDEO. == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == FOR FURTHER QUERIES PLEASE CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY AT + 49 69 650050 (Photo credit should read THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP/Getty Images)

For West Ham and Aston Villa, this progression signals a missed opportunity. Back in December 2015 it was reported by Goal that both West Ham and Aston Villa had made an approach to sign Pavard. The then 19-year-old right-back had caught the eye with Lille. Villa were battling relegation at the time and looked to strengthen their leaky defence. West Ham were looking to add fresh faces to their backline.

Neither side managed to get Pavard. In the end he joined Stuttgart for a fee reported to be in the region of €5 million (£4.5 million) by Le Monde.

France’s defender Benjamin Pavard (C) plays the ball during a training session in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, on November 12, 2017, as part of the team’s preparation for the friendly football match against Germany. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Now that fee looks like an absolute bargain for a player who looks destined to be heading to the World Cup with France. Pavard would have been a shrewd addition by either Aston Villa or West Ham – but both sides missed out.

Now it looks as though a fee nearer to £30 million will have to be shelled out if one of the Premier League elite want to get their hands on the 21-year-old.

If only Aston Villa or West Ham had managed to get their man back in 2016.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Aston Villa

One to Watch: Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish at his creative best vs Ipswich

The Villa youngster was exceptional again this weekend.

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Jack Grealish
Photo: Getty Images

Jack Grealish again proved why he is Aston Villa’s most important player in their attempt to gain promotion back to the Premier League with an excellent performance in Villa’s 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town on Saturday.

The 22-year-old’s wonderful display was underpinned by the 28 passes he completed in the final third – which, according to WhoScored was more than any other player had managed in a single Championship game thus far this season.

Grealish also completed five key passes in the game, bringing his season total to 11 – more than any other player in the league other than Norwich’s Ben Marshall (also 11).

Furthermore, the Englishman completed five of his six dribbles in the game.

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

Steve Bruce spoke glowingly of Grealish this week on TalkSport.

“He’s arguably the best young player I’ve had in terms of ability. He can do something where he can lift you off your seat, he’s such a natural footballer and of course he’s grown up a bit,” the Aston Villa manager said.

“For me, he’s going to be a top, top player.”

It is hard not to agree with Bruce. Not only does it appear as though Grealish has matured greatly in the last 12 months, his performances since the turn of the year have been astounding – he has arguably been the division’s best player in that period.

His constant menacing against Ipswich was no different – he has started this season brightly.

He has now been offered a new contract by Villa, according to BBC Sport, and looks set to stay with the club for short-term after a move to Tottenham Hotspur broke down this summer.

If he can manage to help guide Villa to the Premier League, he may be there for the long-term.

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Aston Villa

Why Matt Targett would be a superb loan signing for Aston Villa

Max Cohen

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Matt Targett
Photo: Getty Images

According to the Daily Star, Southampton left back Matt Targett is drawing the attention of Aston Villa, as Steve Bruce looks to secure the defender on loan.

The loan signing of the young Englishman would be a superb acquisition for the Villans, as Targett has promotion experience and possesses Premier League quality.

Targett made his Premier League debut for Southampton in September 2014, and has gone on to make 27 top flight appearances for the Saints. In addition, he has featured in the Europa League, as well as for the England U-21s.

Last season, the 22-year-old joined Fulham on a loan deal during the January transfer window and enjoyed immense success in the Championship. Targett made his debut on 27 January and had to wait until the final match of the regular season until he suffered defeat in a Fulham shirt.

The left back was vital during Fulham’s successful play-off run; Villa fans will know him well as he was part of the Fulham team that won 1-0 at Wembley in May.

(Photo by VCG)

Targett showed exceptional defensive intelligence last season, with a knack of being in the right place at the right time. Always composed at the back, the 22-year-old is comfortable in possession and can kickstart attacks, deliver dangerous crosses, and link up well with the left winger.

Fulham rated Targett so highly that they bid up to £15 million for the defender this summer, yet saw their offers repeatedly rejected by Southampton manager Mark Hughes.

Extremely well-regarded in southwest London and evidently coveted at St. Mary’s, Matt Targett would be a great addition to Steve Bruce’s squad as Villa aim to bounce back from last season’s crushing play-off heartbreak.

And the move would offer the Villans some solace as Fulham were eager to sign Targett, but instead hijacked Aston Villa’s deal for Joe Bryan. Now, the Championship club would attain the services of a Fulham target while they mount their promotion push.

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Rangers return for Ross McCormack would show last resort after transfer failures

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Photo: Getty images.

Rangers are continuing to look to strengthen their front line and provide alternatives to reduce the dependence upon Alfredo Morelos, despite his prolific start to the campaign, and the latest name to be linked with a move to Ibrox is Ross McCormack.

TeamTalk say that the Scottish side have shown an interest after Aston Villa made it clear that they would be prepared to pay all of his £40,000 per week wages, which could mean he would be a bargain acquisition.

The 32-year-old played 10 games and scored two goals during a stint at the club as a youngster in 2005/06 before departing for Motherwell, where his impressive form earned him a move south of the border.

However, since moving to Aston Villa for £12 million, his career has gone downhill. A fall-out with Steve Bruce meant that his career at Villa Park has been all but written off.

“It’s been a disaster. There’s no two ways about it. I scored four goals and played something like 25 games. If you look at the five years before that I was averaging over 50 games a season and probably over 20 goals. I think most players have a dip in their careers, hopefully that was mine.”

McCormack is clearly keen to put his Aston Villa nightmare behind him.

Rangers have had a bid turned down for Hearts forward Kyle Lafferty, according to STV, and a reported interest in McCormack may represent a shift in attention to a player who is unlikely to be first choice in Steven Gerrard’s wishlist.

McCormack may have scored 14 goals in 17 games for Melbourne City, but he has not played regularly in Britain since 2016 and, at 32-years-old, is not a long-term solution. Such short-termism is something that Gerrard has been keen to avoid with his other signings.

Financially, the deal may make sense with such low costs, but it is hard to see that Gerrard would welcome a player on the decline with reported attitude problems and fitness issues having spent his summer hiring young and exciting talents with a point to prove.

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