By Villa News Speaking to Alan Hutton

16th Mar, 2023 | 12:10pm

Aston Villa squad playing to avoid Unai Emery axe with summer transfer overhaul on the cards - BBC pundit

We’re delighted to welcome former Aston Villa full-back Alan Hutton as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Villa Park

Aston Villa may be set for a mid-table Premier League finish but the players are playing to stay in Unai Emery’s plans for next season, according to Alan Hutton.

Villa are 11th in the standings on 35 points, well clear of the relegation zone but unlikely to move up high enough to qualify for Europe.

From the outside looking in, it may look as though the Birmingham-based club’s season is done and dusted.

However, Hutton believes that players still have major targets to meet in order to stay in Emery’s plans as the Spaniard is bound to be busy in the transfer market in the summer.

Speaking to Villa News, the former right-back said: “They have to stay motivated. Emery won’t have it if they’re not.

He’s got a specific way of playing, you want everybody to buy into that.

And, ultimately, you’re playing for your future.

There’s a big summer window coming up where he’s going to want to put his stamp on the team. If you’re not playing at his level, you’ll be out of the door.”

Hutton also believes that finishing in a mid-table position is a positive step for his former club.

“Their aim will be to get as high up the league as possible, really,” he added.

In the future, Villa will target those European spots.

They’re in a good place right now and it’s going to be difficult from now until the end of the season because you’re not looking down and looking up is just a little bit too far out of your reach.

You want to consolidate that middle ground and build on it for next season.

It’ll be interesting in the bottom half, from 12th down there aren’t many points that separate them and you don’t usually see it that way in the Premier League. It’ll be interesting.”

In other Aston Villa news, a “silly offer” could lead to Ollie Watkins quitting Villa Park in the summer.