Aston Villa recruitment chief Johan Lange is “indispensable” to right the wrongs of “disaster” signings like Wesley, says Kieran Maguire.
The finance expert and new Football Insider columnist spoke exclusively as the sporting director’s transfer strategy proves successful in the Premier League.
The 41-year-old ex-Wolves exec replaced Jesus Garcia Pitarch in July 2020 and has already overseen a number of wildly successful transfers — Ollie Watkins, Bertrand Traore, Emi Martinez and Matty Cash all joined the club for a combined total £74million in the summer.
Ross Barkley also joined on loan and Morgan Sanson, who The Athletic claims is valued at £30m, joined in January for a cut-price £14m.
Maguire explains how efficient recruitment is vital for a team chasing success at the elite level, using 2019 Villa flop Wesley — who was signed under the previous regime — as case in point.
He told Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams: “You can’t afford to kiss too many frogs before you find a prince if you are a club of Villa’s status. Realistically, they are a mid-tier Premier League club.
“If they want to be challenging for Europa League places or to win a cup, you can’t have a scattergun approach to recruitment.
“We’ve seen that with Everton. Moshiri came in and they were signing players left, right and centre. Some worked some didn’t.
“The signing of Wesley was an absolute disaster. Regardless of the club, £22million transfer fee plus wages which are going to be £4m a year minimum…
“That’s an awful lot of money to throw away — especially when you don’t have the benefits of European football as an additional revenue stream.
“So yes, a good recruitment chief is indispensable if they want to get there.”
Quoted in Birmingham Live in January, Dean Smith said of Lange: “He’s very good at his job. He’s recruited reallt well and we have a good working relationship.”
Aston Villa are currently 9th in the Premier League with two games in hand on five of eight teams above them in the table.