The transfer rumour mill is in full flow just days after Aston Villa’s season concluded. Steven Gerrard is continuing to shape and mould his squad so it’s in a place to really challenge the top-six next season. Philippe Coutinho and Boubacar Kamara are the first in through the door for a combined £17million, while free agent James Tarkowski, Duje Caleta-Car (Marseille), Sven Botman (Lille), Diego Carlos (Sevilla) and Calvin Bassey (Rangers) all remain on Villa’s centre-back shortlist.

In midfield, Yves Bissouma and Kalvin Phillips are both still desired, while it’s the former who’s deemed a more realistic addition given his dwindling contract situation at Brighton (June 2023). Villa, as we know, had a £25million bid knocked back for the Mali international in January. Gerrard also wants more attacking options ahead of the new season to complement Danny Ings, Ollie Watkins, Leon Bailey and, should he impress again in pre-season, Cameron Archer.

Looking ahead to what would be considered a dream transfer window and, from front to back, here’s how Villa could well line-up should deals be rubber-stamped over the coming weeks and months. Emi Martinez will be Villa’s No.1 next season while, in reserve, Gerrard wants to retain Robin Olsen’s services having been impressed with him behind the scenes and with his debut at Man City last weekend.

At right-back, Matty Cash is again one of the first names on the team sheet. Kaine Kesler Hayden, 18, is fully expected to step up and become a first-team player next season to rival Cash at right-back. Over on the left flank, Lucas Digne is the starter going into the new season with Villa wanting to sign a new left-back. Gerrard has left the door open for Matt Targett – contracted until 2025 – to return but the 26-year-old is hopeful of moving to Newcastle on a permanent deal for a pre-agreed £13million.

Aston Villa’s dream XI after summer transfer window: Martinez; Cash, Diego Carlos, Tarkowski, Digne; McGinn, Kamara, Bissouma; Coutinho, Buendia; Watkins.