Villa looking to offload high earners
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert will begin the process of trying to remove high-earners such as Darren Bent and Stephen Ireland from his squad next week.
Lambert expects to hold meetings on Tuesday with Bent, Ireland and possibly Richard Dunne and Shay Given as part of the restructuring of the club for next season.
The Villa boss has been asked by owner Randy Lerner to introduce a more streamlined budget at the club since he took over as manager from Alex McLeish.
And now that Villa's Premier League position is secure for another season, Lambert is ready to begin trying to remove a large number of the outcasts from this season.
"We expect to hold meetings with various people next week and sort through things,” he said. “We don't expect it to be too complicated.”
Bent has already made it clear he is seeking talks with Lambert regarding his future after barely figuring for the club this season. The 29-year-old still has two years remaining on his £65,000-a-week contract.
Ireland, meanwhile, has a year left on his deal and remains among the top earners, but is understood to be willing to come to an agreement with Villa to leave.
Dunne is out of contract and his Republic of Ireland international colleague Shay Given, another of the higher earners at the club, has three years remaining on his contract.
Villa want to free up space on their wage bill to offer new deals to Christian Benteke, Andreas Weimann, Ashley Westwood and Matthew Lowton, but Lerner wants a far leaner wage bill from next season and there will be more shopping for young players.
"The days of big summer signings have gone,” Lambert said. “We have stripped it right back. We want players who are hungry. I look at players with character, not those who just want money.”