Aston Villa must make a decisive call on Conor Hourihane’s future and offload him permanently in this January transfer window.
The Republic of Ireland international has been on the fringes of Dean Smith’s side this season, making just five appearances in total, and not playing a single minute of Premier League football since he started against West Ham in a 2-1 defeat.
Now, Football Insider claim that Villa are weighing up whether to let Hourihane leave the club this month, and that any move would most likely would be on loan.
The report also adds that there is “extensive interest” in the midfielder.
With 150 appearances to his name at Villa Park, there’s been no questioning that Hourihane has proven himself to be a worthy signing for the club over the past few seasons.
He played an integral role in getting Smith’s side promoted into the Premier League, scoring eight goals and providing a whopping 12 assists in the Championship and the play-offs, respectively.
Even last season saw Hourihane play his part in ensuring Villa’s top-flight safety, with 34 appearances in all competitions and with him scoring seven goals and setting up another five.
But this campaign has seen the Irishman drop completely out of the picture, so much so that he hasn’t even made it off the bench in Villa’s past six Premier League games.
Both Douglas Luiz and John McGinn have been the settled partnership in midfield for Smith, and with the kind of success the team have enjoyed – they find themselves ten points off the top with two games in hand – it’s no surprise that the Villa boss has been reluctant to make changes.
The 29-year-old is picking up a wage packet of £30k-a-week for sitting on the sidelines, and that is essentially wasting the money of owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, who are paying a player a pretty sum whilst he does almost nothing to justify receiving it.
Despite the success they are enjoying on the pitch, that isn’t an excuse to start making poor financial decisions off it, and continually paying a player who isn’t in Smith’s plans at the moment reeks of mismanagement.
It would be a rather ruthless call given everything Hourihane has given the club over the past few years and the impact he has had on establishing Villa as a top-flight side again.
But this is a cut-throat world where tough decisions need to be made, and if Hourihane isn’t better than what Villa have got, then they should cut their losses on him and let him leave permanently rather than on a loan deal.