By Graham Hill
IF anyone doubted the Villa owners’ determination to build a side capable of competing in the Premier League, then the record £22million signing of Brazilian striker Wesley confirmed it.
Just one question needs to be asked about the Club Brugge – now Villa – striker.
Can he cut it in the Premier League?
Boss Dean Smith clearly thinks he can. And with Villa’s policy now looking to bring in young players whose value will only increase, so do the clubs top brass.
Comparisons have obviously been made with Christian Benteke who arrived at Villa under Paul Lambert for between £5-7million, depending on who you believe.
He would later move on to Liverpool – only to find the grass was not always greener – before ending up at Crystal Palace.
As for Wesley, he has a decent record in Belgium, but as at least one media colleague pointed out to me ‘Nobody saw this coming’.
Yes, his name was being touted as a transfer target – but for Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez, who missed out.
Villa were clearly waiting in the wings – and wasted no time in signing the player once Newcastle dropped out of the running.
Out of all the players linked with Villa since they won promotion. Wesley was not one of them – which made the deal all the more surprising.
You get the impression that Villa are not going to be spending money just for the sake of it – but at the current rate, and with obvious targets still to sign, their total summer spend could pass £120m.
That is a huge contrast to 12 months ago with Villa struggling to pay the bills after failing to win promotion.
With the likes of Jack Butland, Tyrone Mings and Neal Maupay possibly arriving, the spending shows no sign of stopping. And Smith will want the core of his side confirmed before pre-season gets under way.
But as for Wesley, the only time we will get the chance to really judge how good a signing he is will be in the heat of a Premier League battle.