Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard says that a player’s vaccine status will “come into conversations” ahead of January’s transfer window after the Premier League recorded the highest number of weekly Covid-19 cases since May.
Liverpool icon Gerrard, who succeeded Dean Smith in the Villa hotseat in November, told the media on Monday that the club have begun discussions about potential transfer targets as he looks to bolster a squad still seemingly struggling after the £100 million ($132.4 million) record transfer of club captain Jack Grealish to Manchester City in August.
But according to Gerrard, there are several factors to consider when it comes to potential new additions to his squad – not least whether or not a potential signing has been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Two games (Brighton vs. Tottenham; Brentford vs. Man. United) have recently fallen off the packed December Premier League schedule after Covid outbreaks within the Spurs and United squads forced league chiefs to pull the plug on the games.
The Premier League has revealed that 42 cases of Covid-19 infection had been recorded from tests on 3,805 players and club staff between December 6 and December 12 – the highest number of positive tests since the figures were first released in May.
The alarming increase in figures comes as the Premier League instructed clubs to reinstate emergency measures such as the wearing of facemasks, social distancing and limiting medical treatment time in the wake of country-wide rises in Covid-19 cases.
Gerrard’s Villa team are among those to have been affected, with the former England international confirming two of his squad members have tested positive alongside two staff members.
“I think it's each to their own in terms of a decision – I'm certainly double vaxxed”
Rangers' boss Steven Gerrard on covid vaccination uptake in his squad ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/dCSqmZ9F7S
— The Go Radio Football Show (@GoFootballShow) October 20, 2021
And in further comments, he detailed just how that might impact his club’s discussions about how they will spend their cash in January.
“I’ve been really impressed with [sporting director] Johan Lange and the guys around him in recruitment and scouting, in terms of the details and work I’ve seen so far. We look at everything. So I’m sure it will come up,” said Gerrard.
“But we’ll obviously make decisions as and when we decide a certain person is the one who could come in and make us better. We’ll go across it with a fine-toothed comb.
“But I don’t think it’s right for me to comment on if I would or wouldn’t in that situation. But it would certainly come into conversations in the background.”
Gerrard – who is double-vaccinated – was a notable advocate of the efficacy of vaccines during his spell with Scottish team Rangers, admitting to the media that he had been “pushing” his players to take their opportunities to receive a vaccine against Covid-19.
“We are pushing, we are asking all our players to go and get this done. But we certainly can’t force them because I think everyone is entitled to make their own decisions,” he said in October.
A report in the same month detailed that just 68 percent of Premier League players had been vaccinated against Covid-19.