Aston Villa will make a move for Stoke City midfielder Ryan Woods if they fail to sign Kalvin Phillips, according to the Mirror.
Woods joined Stoke on a permanent deal last summer, but he struggled to establish himself in Nathan Jones’ side during the second half of the season as the Potters stumbled to a 16th-placed finish.
But it is not just Villa who are showing an interest in Woods’ services, as Leeds have also reportedly expressed an interest in landing the 25-year-old.
So, with Woods’ future seemingly up in the air, today’s FLW Six Pointer takes a close look at his situation…
Firstly, what’s his current situation at Stoke?
“Woods was signed by Stoke on a loan deal which was made permanent in January, but his debut season at the Potters has been somewhat underwhelming.
“He was played at defensive midfield in a faltering side during the first half of the season, and he eventually lost his place in the team after Jones’ arrival at the turn of the year. He only featured twice in Stoke’s final 13 games of the season, despite not suffering from injury in that time.
“This record suggests Woods’ days at the bet365 Stadium are numbered, and he now stands at a crossroads. Jones may well be looking to offload the midfielder this summer as he makes room for his incomings.”
What qualities does he possess to warrant this interest?
“Woods is a defensive midfielder who is well-known for his passing ability from deep and his ability to bring others into the game.
“He is relatively small in stature but he makes up for this with his dynamic style of play, in that he is at his best when in possession and looking to keep the ball moving.
“Woods has also been known for his strong shooting skills in the past, but he is also good at picking the right option when deciding whether to let fly or offload the ball.”
Why would Villa be keen on his services?
“Villa’s interest will have come about as a result of Smith’s link with Woods from his time at Brentford. The Villa boss has already signed former Bees Ezri Konsa and Jota at Villa, so he is certainly not shy to call upon his former players.
“The huge benefit to Smith and Woods’ prior relationship is that Woods will be well-accustomed with Smith’s playing system, and he will know exactly where he fits in.
“This move would also mean that Smith could deploy the successful midfield tactics he used involving Woods at Brentford, as he knows they will be a success. It could be an exciting move.”
Why have Leeds been looking at him too?
“This is a bit more of a strange one, as Woods is a very different player to Leeds’ current defensive midfielder Phillips.
“Phillips is much more combative and powerful, whereas Woods presents a more nimble option who is capable of dictating play from deep. This is not to suggest that Woods would not be able to succeed at Elland Road, but it would mean a slight change in strategy.
“However, Marcelo Bielsa is still bound to be attracted to Woods, as the midfielder is capable of quickly switching the ball and expanding play. His passing range means he could work well in Bielsa’s fast-paced system.”
Should Woods be looking for a move?
“I think he’ll be keen to move on from Stoke this summer after the way last season ended for him.
“He barely got a look in towards the end of the campaign, and this interest now presents the chance for Woods to make a fresh start at a top club. Both Leeds and Villa are clubs very much on the up, whereas it remains to be seen which direction Stoke will head in next season, despite the positive signs from Jones this summer.
“Woods’ playing style means he is capable of becoming the key figure in certain sides that would suit him. At 25, he should be looking to find a home where he can settle and establish himself. I’m not convinced Stoke is the place for him.”
Where do you think he will end up?
“I can see Woods heading to Villa this summer. The relationship between him and Smith should be enough to force the move through.
“I am slightly unconvinced that Woods is quite at a Premier League level yet, but I think Smith is the only manager who can make sure he is.
“Woods may not be an instant starter in Smith’s side as he adapts to the top-flight, but I think the signs are there that he can break into the team and be a big player for Villa. The £30million price tag on Phillips is likely to be unaffordable for Villa, so the Woods deal is looking like a starter.”