Aston Villa must sell Conor Hourihane this summer amid a recent transfer update on his future at the club.
The Republic of Ireland international struggled to get much game-time at Villa Park in the first half of the 2020/21 season, playing just 228 minutes of Premier League football before his departure for Swansea on loan in January.
The Athletic’s Gregg Evans recently reported that Championship clubs are interested in signing him, although former Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor has suggested that he will want to fight for his place.
The 34-year-old said: “Knowing Conor, he’s going to want to play at the highest level so he’s going to want to stay in the Premier League.
“I think he’s going to want to stay and fight for his position, put in some good performances in pre-season. Then he can see where he stands at the beginning of the season.”
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of a game against West Ham last season, Villa manager Dean Smith was quick to acknowledge that it was difficult for Hourihane, saying: “Conversations can be difficult but if you’re just speaking to the players with honesty then you usually find a way through that.
“We’d played two, won two and Conor had come off in both games. We signed Ross (Barkley) and I felt we needed to go a different way against Liverpool given who we were playing against. I explained that to Conor and, yes, he was disappointed because he had been involved in the first two games but we felt we’d brought in a real, high-calibre, different type of player.”
That Smith felt perfectly happy to allow the £40k-a-week Hourihane to leave the club on loan for the second half of the season paints a telling picture of just how far down the pecking order he is at Villa Park.
It would be the best move for all parties for him to leave on a permanent transfer this summer, especially with the club also having brought in Morgan Sanson in the January transfer window and looking to sign James Ward-Prowse as well. The Irishman’s time at Villa Park appears to be up.