Wednesday 23 August 2017

Steve Bruce hit with Aston Villa cash freeze and told he must sell before he can buy

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce
Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce

John Percy

Steve Bruce has been hit by a cash freeze at Aston Villa which means he must sell players before he can buy.

Bruce will have to revamp his Championship squad on a limited budget this summer as part of a Football League clampdown on spending.

The Villa manager held talks with director of football Steve Round and Keith Wyness, the chief executive, on Thursday over the club’s summer strategy and was informed that he can only sign players on loan unless he raises funds himself.

Telegraph Sport understands Bruce wants to sign at least five new players, after the club finished in a disappointing 13th place, but is now reassessing his plans.

Bruce will look to sell players including Jordan Amavi, Carles Gil, Jordan Veretout, Tommy Elphick and Aaron Tshibola in an attempt to generate money for transfers. Fiorentina have already sealed a £2.5million deal for midfielder Carlos Sanchez, who spent the season on loan there.

But at this stage it leaves Bruce’s hopes of signing Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone in a £3million deal in the balance, with another loan move more likely.

Villa have stressed that owner Dr Tony Xia remains totally committed to the club, after a mammoth £70million spend this season, and the cutbacks are a result of Financial Fair Play regulations.

New rules dictate that clubs can lose up to £83million over the course of three seasons – but recent Villa accounts in February revealed a deficit of £81.3million which leaves the club dangerously close to possible punishment.

Bruce branded the season “unacceptable” after failing to mount a promotion challenge, admitting there must be a dramatic improvement in the next campaign.

“I have got to have a squad of players that are going to mount a challenge, otherwise I’ll not be sitting here. Quite simple,” he said.

“It’s important that we have a good summer and pre-season and, of course, the most important thing is that we assemble a squad that is capable.

“We finished 13th and that’s the lowest I’ve finished in my career. I can’t be happy with it when I’ve got the most wonderful opportunity in my career but I’ll do everything I possibly can to get us a team which can find a way to be at the top end.”

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