Aston Villa chairman Randy Lerner’s sanctioning of a £10m swoop for Japanese international Hiroshi Kiyotake shows again that there are funds available at Villa Park for the right player at the right age.
Manager Paul Lambert spent half his transfer budget on one player last summer when then-21-year-old striker Christian Benteke was lured to Villa Park in an £8.5m deal with Genk, and he is attempting to repeat the trick with a move for Nuremburg midfielder Kiyotake.
Lambert is sticking to a stringent recruitment policy of buying young players – with former Nordsjaelland centre-back Joras Okore amongst six signings this summer all under 25 – and 23-year-old Kiyotake looks set to be the pick of the bunch.
Since making the move to Europe from J.League side Cerezo Osaka last summer, the latest star of Japanese football has contributed four league goals from midfield, but a whopping 10 assists put him just four behind top provider Franck Ribery as perennial Bundesliga strugglers Nuremburg finished the season in 10th.
Kiyotake, who replaced Shinji Kagawa in the Cerezo first team after his 2010 move to Borussia Dortmund, has been likened in style to the Manchester United midfielder, sharing a great first touch and positional awareness plus excellent passing ability around the edge of the box and a willingness to take players on.
With the experience of 18 international caps to his name already, Kiyotake is seen by Lambert as the perfect conduit between Benteke and Andreas Weimann up front and Fabian Delph in midfield, with Ashley Westwood a year further into his development in a deep-lying position.
Villa fans will hope for better fare this season after a few years on the breadline, but with Benteke seemingly staying put and last summer’s rookie signings now experienced Premier League campaigners, Villa can mount a top ten challenge this season and the 8/13 about them finishing higher than a Stoke City team in transition appeals