Aston Villa: Gerrard 'judging' £121m quartet at Bodymoor Heath

Aston Villa quartet Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey, Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins have to prove their worth to head coach Steven Gerrard through their application at Bodymoor Heath, according to transfer insider Dean Jones.

Gerrard was appointed as the Midlands giants’ head coach last November and he could look to splash the cash when the window reopens in the summer.

What’s the latest news involving Buendia, Bailey, Ings and Watkins?

Villa broke their record transfer fee by parting with up to £38million to acquire creative midfielder Buendia from Norwich City last summer.

But the 25-year-old has not been a serious threat in the final third of the pitch as he has only chalked up six goal contributions in 30 appearances.

Bailey was another big-money signing last year, following a £25million switch from Bayer Leverkusen, but injuries and a lack of form have restricted him to five starts.

Another £25million was enough to draft Ings in from Southampton last August and he has gone on to show he can be a threat for Villa by contributing five goals and as many assists in 25 outings.

Watkins previously held the title of the club’s record signing, having swapped Brentford for Villa Park in a deal which could end up being worth £33million with add-ons, and has found the back of the net six times under Gerrard’s stewardship.

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What has Dean Jones said about the quartet?

Jones understands that Gerrard is making decisions on whether Buendia, Bailey, Ings and Watkins have a future under his guidance by watching them closely at the training ground.

The transfer insider believes the 41-year-old will not select the quartet, who have struggled for starts at various times, solely based on the hefty sums Villa forked out to welcome them to the Midlands.

Jones told GIVEMESPORT: “I think he’s literally judging them based on what he’s seeing in training and what he’s seeing in their characters.

“I don’t think he’s really interested in reputation or how you’ve been hyped up before this moment. He’s gone into the club, it’s a clean slate and he’s taking everyone at face value.”

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Could any of the quartet leave in the summer?

According to Football Insider, Brighton & Hove Albion have set their sights on signing Ings when the transfer window reopens for business.

The report suggests Ings has become a target for the Seagulls as boss Graham Potter is seeking a proven Premier League operator due to an underwhelming goals record at the Amex Stadium this season.

Ings is currently Villa’s highest-earner, with his £120,000-per-week contract still having more than two years to run.

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