It has been an awful summer for Aston Villa, with the side seeing two of their best players leave in the past week.
Club captain Fabian Delph was the first to exit, joining Manchester City for £8million, to the shock of fans, when just days before he had stated he was staying at the club.
He was followed out the door by Christian Benteke, the man who has single handedly kept Villa in the Premier League with his goals last season, having joined Liverpool in a £32million deal.
Tim Sherwood has some serious work ahead of him to replace his stars before the season starts, otherwise it looks likely the Midland club will be reunited with rivals Birmingham City in the Championship.
Good news for Sherwood is he should have the majority of the £40million they received for the duo to reinvest on his squad.
Here are four players that will help keep them in the Premier League…
Aston Villa’s forward line is looking rather depleted after the sales of Benteke, Bent and Wiemann this summer. Currently they only have Gabby Agbonlahor, Libor Kozak and new signing Jordan Ayew.
Austin is the perfect replacement for Benteke. The player is proven Premier League goalscorer, and last season only Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa and Harry Kane scored more than the QPR strikers 18 league goals.
The new England International is reportedly available for around £15million.
He would fit the style of play at the club with QPR having used similar tactics last season.
Austin combines good technical ability with a strong aerial presence and a keen eye for goal, he would look at home with any team in the league.
He will have a point to prove to England manager Roy Hodgson ahead of next summer’s European Championship, making this a great time to sign the player as he looks to repeat last season’s goalscoring antics.
The defence at Villa has always been a major factor in their struggles, not since the days of Martin Laursen and Olof Mellberg have the club had any form of quality at the back.
Sherwood is obviously trying to address that situation, with this summer’s signings of Micah Richards and Jordan Amavi. Both players are highly-rated and many were surprised by their decision to sign contracts at Villa Park.
However, it is the central defensive praetorship that needs most work. Jores Okore is a fairly decent footballer but he is prone to errors and needs an experienced centre back alongside him.
The man for that job can be Steven Caulker, who would be available for around £8million as QPR start getting desperate to get the player’s £30k-a-week wages off the books.
Standing at an imposing 6’3″, Caulker’s ability to cover ground is a major strength of his game. He is comfortable on the ball with his passing ability very impressive for a defender. Add to that an aerial capability that is top class, Caulker often has the upper hand on most strikers.
At just 23-years-old, Caulker has a lot of years ahead of him and can continue to improve his development with a switch to Villa Park.
The departure of Delph will hit Villa in more than just the centre of midfield. The club has lost its leader, and there is nobody to encourage the team and lead by example through troubled times.
Esteban Cambiasso would certainly fill both of those gaps. The Argentine has done it all in football – winning 23 trophies throughout his career and he even played a major role in helping Leicester to survive in the Premier League last season.
He would bring valuable experience and expertise that could only benefit everyone at Villa.
The player is a free agent following his decision to leave Leicester at the end of his contract, providing a bargain solution to Tim Sherwood’s problems.
Despite being 34 years of age, Cambiasso still has what it takes to cut it in the top flight of English football, and what he may lack in speed he completely makes up for in vision, leadership, composure and technical ability.
Signing the midfielder is a win/win situation and Sherwood would be mad not to consider it.
Even before this summer’s departures, the Villa attack was lacking a real playmaker, a creative force in the middle of the park to create openings for all those around him.
Tom Cleverley was given this role last season and to the surprise of many took to it well, but unfortunately the player turned down an offer from Villa and joined Everton on a permanent deal instead.
Hughes would be a great creative spark in the Villa midfield. Despite only being 20-years-old, he has been a vital member of the Derby County midfield for several seasons.
Hughes’ best attribute is his passing. He is one of those players that seems to notice a pass that nobody else can and is most effective around the edge of the box, where he is able to slot a ball through the opposition’s defence.
The youngster has already attracted interest from a number of top Premier League sides, but the lure of guaranteed first team football at Villa Park and the chance to become a club superstar can help lure him to the club.
Derby will want to put up a fight to keep hold of their star asset but in this age money talks, and it won’t be long before one of football’s hottest prospects is playing in the top flight.