An update has emerged on Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane, regarding Sheffield United’s interest in his services.
According to Mirror journalist Darren Witcoop, Sheffield United are stepping up their interest in Aston Villa’s central midfielder Conor Hourihane as they appear set to miss out on a deal for Fulham’s Tom Cairney.
Express & Star journalist Joseph Masi has ruled West Brom out of the race for Hourihane. The local Baggies reporter has stated that the Championship side are not in the running for his signature as it stands.
Johan Lange must ruthlessly axe Hourihane from Villa’s squad this summer by making the most of Sheffield United’s eagerness to sign him. He should negotiate a deal to send the experienced battler to the Blades, whether that be on loan or on a permanent basis as he should not be a part of Dean Smith’s plans in the Premier League heading into next season.
The 30-year-old’s contract at Villa Park expires in 2022 and he will be a free agent come the end of the 2021/22 campaign. This means that Lange could either sell him now or loan him out and get his wages off the books for the final year of his deal before allowing him to depart for nothing.
Of course, Villa would rather get money for him now, but there is no guarantee a team will be willing to pay for him given the current climate. That means a loan may be more viable.
After dropping Hourihane for Jacob Ramsey ahead of a 1-0 win over Wolves last season, Smith admitted he was being “harsh on” by not selecting the midfielder.
“(Ramsey) is a good player. I had no qualms about putting him in. Probably a little bit harsh on Conor. Conor played okay at West Ham, but I just felt with (Ramsey’s) legs and his energy in the last couple of weeks in training that he could handle it.”
This shows that Smith does not believe the £42k-per-week dud has the stamina to compete regularly in the Premier League. He was subsequently loaned out to Swansea in the Championship, where he scored five goals in 22 appearances for Steve Cooper’s side.
In the 2019/20 Premier League season, Hourihane averaged 0.9 tackles and interceptions combined per game and managed a WhoScored rating of 6.69. This suggests that he struggled with the pace of the game in the top-flight, which would tie in with Smith’s decision to pick Ramsey ahead of Hourihane because of his energy in the middle of the park.
Therefore, Villa should be trying their hardest to get him out of the club this summer. Otherwise, his weekly salary will continue to drain the owners with little payback from the player in terms of his performances on the pitch.