COMMENT By Will Butcher
Steve Bruce is reportedly scouring the free agent market for a new striker, but who should Aston Villa look to sign?
The Birmingham Mail claim that Bruce has weighed up a move for a number of striker options that are currently without a club, with the emergency loan rule scrapped.
With Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, Gabby Agbonlahor and Scott Hogan all injured, here are three free agents Bruce could sign to ease the pressure on Jonathan Kodjia:
The former West Ham striker is currently looking for a new home after ending his spell with third-tier American side Sacramento Republic last year. With Championship experience, Cole gained promotion with the Hammers to the Premier League in 2011-12 through the play-offs, after having a hand in 20 goals during his 40 second-tier outings. Scoring 14 times during the east London outfit’s promotion season, he also provided six assists and Bruce could be tempted to try his luck on the 33-year-old if he thinks Cole is still capable of such exploits.
A two-time Premier League winner, former Monaco, Manchester United and Tottenham striker Berbatov is also on the lookout for a new side after being released by Greek top tier side PAOK. Plenty of clubs have been reportedly interested in signing the Bulgaria international, but his ability to dictate a side’s attack from either the number 10 role or as a centre forward could be crucial in seeing Villa escape a relegation dog fight. Known for his calmness and slow tempo, Berbatov’s age is unlikely to affect his ability as he is known more for what he can do with the ball at his feet. The 36-year-old would be a huge coup, if brought in on a short-term deal.
Another elder statesman of the game, Keane is without a home after leaving LA Galaxy. The retired Ireland international has a wonderful goalscoring rate in the Premier League, with 125 goals coming in a ratio of one strike in less than every three games after making 349 top-flight appearances for the likes of Tottenham, Leeds and Liverpool. Keane has also had a spell with Villa in a loan spell from Galaxy back in 2011-12, where he scored three times in seven games. Bringing him back to Villa Park, where he is held in high regard, would be another top signing.
In other Aston Villa transfer news, here are three reasons why the relegated Premier League club should sign this former Villa playmaker.