Villa Park has been bustling with comings and goings this summer as I tried to get our squad in the correct shape for the season ahead with no less than eleven new first-team signings amounting to around £144million.
This amount of activity meant that we had to sell what we could of the spare parts that I could do without, starting with two Dutch departures to the Turkish top division as Geertruida and Veerman joined İstanbul Başakşehir and Gençlerbirliği respectively in early June.
Some of Villa’s stalwarts from the Gerrard era including Mings, McGinn, Buendía and Targett all departed, too, as I wanted it to not just look like a new era, but feel like a completely new team after years of underachieving with the same players keeping their spots year on year.
All told, we spent around £22million in total, with £122million worth of players heading out of the door for pastures new.
Borussia Dortmund’s Illan Meslier joins us for a £16million fee, dropping 35-year-old Nick Pope into much more a back-up goalkeeper for the coming season, just six months after £650k arrival from Burnley, and also subsequently sending Pontus Dahlberg on his way to East Anglia.
The French keeper went from being a certain starter at Leeds United during their Premier League years, to joining Dortmund for £36million last summer. Meslier was only to make eight appearances in a Dortmund shirt, with 6 of those coming in the Europa Conference League.
He hasn’t been out-of-favour in footballing terms for too long, and his Premier League experience should bode well as he becomes our new #1.
With two new full-backs on either side and two new centre-backs, we could field a new-look back line if we wanted to this season. However, Leonardo Balerdi was our first buy of the summer, joining us from Ligue 1 side Lille after five impressive years at Stade Pierre Mauroy, in total making 129 appearances for the club.
Right-back Colin Dagba was our second defensive signing of the summer, joining for £14million from La Liga side Real Betis, with the Beninese international being a key part of Betis’ squad for the past five seasons.
Before Betis, he played for Paris Saint-Germain and was a key player there, winning three Ligue 1 titles for the club before a £4million departure to Spain.
Joining just one day after Colin Dagba, we signed another centre-back to cover for the losses of Konsa and Mings at the back. Mohamed Simakan joined us for little over £10million from Serie A side Atalanta after three good years at the club. He was signed for Atalanta for £30million from RB Leipzig, but his 2025/26 campaign was cut by injury before returning to outstanding form last season with a 7.03 rating from 25 matches.
The final defensive signing of the summer was bringing in 33-year-old German veteran Robin Gosens from Atalanta to link up with his teammate Simakan at Villa Park. Gosens was into his tenth consecutive year under contract with Atalanta, but requested to leave to play in England. We were quickly onto this and were able to snap him up for £4.5million to cover our own forced departure of Matt Targett.
After losing out on our main left-wing target Stevanovic to Real Madrid, I think we were able to come up with a great solution by bringing in Maurits Kjærgaard from Red Bull Salzburg for £25million. Last season, he scored and assisted 9 times each in the Austrian Bundesliga as his side secured their sixth Bundesliga title with him in the side. At 24, he has lots of room to improve as well.
After spending so big on Kjærgaard, we got a great deal on Udinese central midfielder Mamadou Coulibaly who joins us for just £3million after hitting a 7.08 rating from 28 Serie A matches last season. Since starting for Udinese, Coulibaly has been one of their star players, hitting over 7.00 ratings every season, with 165 league appearances to his name and one Serie B promotion.
After signing him for Swindon Town last season, I have gone back to Jack Harrison to make him an Aston Villa player this year following 5 goals and 6 assists in the Premier League last season with my old team. It is great to reconnect with Jack and he will wear the same #7 shirt that he wore under me at Swindon.
Luka Sucic linked up with his teammate Maurits Kjærgaard for us this summer, too, joining us for another £20million from Red Bull Salzburg to play in the centre for us this year. Like Kjærgaard, he still has much room to improve and I feel like he will be a fantastic addition when looking back at the end of the season.
Finally, we brought back one of mine and Aston Villa’s old men as Aaron Ramsey rejoined the club just a season after departing to Saint-Étienne and having a fantastic season. Ramsey spent three consecutive seasons on loan for me at Swindon from League One through to our second Championship season where we were promoted and impressed me at every step.
After failing to break into Villa’s squad under Arne Slot upon his loan return, he was sold to Ligue 1 side ASSE for just £500,000 and scored 7 and assisted 4 in 32 games for them. We are delighted to have him back with us, despite having to spend £5million that we shouldn’t have really had to.
Coming in to challenge Ollie Watkins for his starting spot is Servette’s Brazilian forward Salatiel Bartolomeu. With 11 goals in 36 games last season in the Swiss top-flight, I think £5million is a safe gamble on the youngster who has a great mentor to learn from in Watkins.
And a big transfer window it was! I feel we've made some good moves, with a couple of familiar faces (Godwin Loyalists) in Harrison and Ramsey.
I felt impartial about it, it kept them steady and that's all I wanted for Swindon after leaving