Aston Villa may rue not signing Josh King after the forward joined fellow Premier League side Everton on transfer deadline day.
Reports ahead of the January transfer window suggested that King could still be on Dean Smith’s side’s radar, after it was revealed over the summer that they had put in a bid of around £16m for the Norway international.
But on deadline day, Villa didn’t join the race to sign their long-term target, with the Bournemouth man eventually joining Everton on a cut-price deal.
Whilst Villa have enjoyed a remarkable Premier League campaign thus far – they find themselves just seven points off the top four but with two games in hand – there are some areas of concern for Smith, most notably in the striking position.
Summer signing Ollie Watkins has been a revelation in his debut campaign for the club, bagging ten goals already, but Villa have already seen first-hand just what can happen when their main man isn’t firing on all cylinders.
In that two-month period where he didn’t score in the Premier League, Villa won just three of their nine top-flight games, and Smith still felt compelled to keep him on during games, even during his most difficult patches – in fact, he hasn’t missed a single minute of top-flight football all season.
In part, that is down to the real lack of other options that Smith has available to him, what with Wesley only just trying to return back to full fitness, and Keinan Davis still incredibly raw – he’s managed just five goals in 75 games for the club.
In the 5 foot 11 King, they would have got someone with plenty of experience in the Premier League (he’s played 161 times in the competition) and a player who could have eased the burden on Watkins, either off the bench or allowing Smith to completely rest his main man.
King would have brought what his previous manager Eddie Howe described as his “unique pace” to the table, and offered the Villa boss a different option up front.
The fact they weren’t able to get him for the second transfer window in a row, means Smith has been left desperately short in the number nine role, and an injury to Watkins could be catastrophic. The manager will be worried about such a scenario, but there isn’t a lot he can do about it now, other than to manage Watkins as best he can.