The Villa ownership was also quick to make Philippe Coutinho’s loan deal permanent for £17m and bolster Steven Gerrard’s defensive options, with centre-back Diego Carlos arriving from Sevilla for £26m, as well as Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen and his compatriot Ludwig Augustinsson in separate deals.
Having already brought Lucas Digne and Calum Chambers to the club in January, Preece now feels that Gerrard isn’t too far off assembling the squad he desires ahead of his first full season at Villa Park.
He said: “I think we’re one or two away from having that complete squad.
“Midfielder, obviously, to come in to provide that fierce competition Gerrard loves, that Gerrard wants.
“And then once they’re back from Oz, I think they’ll have a look at [Cameron] Archer and [Keinan] Davis’ situations.
“I think one will probably head out, out of those two, and I think a new striker could well come in.
“So midfielder and a striker away from having a complete squad, for me.”
TIF Thoughts on Aston Villa…
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Since their return to the Premier League, the owners at Villa haven’t been afraid to reach into their pockets, spending £133m in the summer prior to the club’s first season back in the top flight in 2019/20.
That total had risen to £330m before the January window, and while the likes of Wesley – who came in for £22m – didn’t work out as he made just four league appearances for the club in the past two seasons, Gerrard inherited a strong squad from Dean Smith which was in need of refining.
Ibrahim Sangare is a midfield enforcer thought to be on the Villans’ radar in terms of the engine room, while going forward, the impressive form of Cameron Archer should see him stick around.
He scored seven goals while on loan in the Championship at Preston North End last term and came in for heavy praise from Preece (5:24) following his goal in the pre-season win over Walsall last weekend.
Even so, with the former Rangers manager’s occasional tendency to play with two strikers, you would think those at Bodymoor Heath will be looking to add a fourth frontman, with Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins also at the club while potentially letting Keinan Davis move on.