Aston Villa had an incredibly busy summer as Tim Sherwood prepared a squad ready to fight and challenge for a top half finish, along with some success in cup competitions. The Premier League side shopped a fair bit, aided by Christian Benteke’s big money move to Liverpool, and a lot of the club’s recruits came from the French Ligue 1. Sherwood importantly realised that the left-back spot could be a problem if not addressed properly in the summer. He also found quickly that Aly Cissokho was not the ideal man for the side and naturally, there was apprehension as to whether Kieran Richardson would continue at the club. Sherwood was said to be very keen on Charlton’s Joe Gomez but Liverpool leapt ahead and roped in the impressing youngster. The season is only five games long, but Villa’s most successful signing thus far — and arguably one of the league’s best — has been £10million man Jordan Amavi.
There is no doubt that the people involved in the transfers for Aston Villa did extensive research when they signed him. It is surprising though, that they faced little or no competition for the full-back.
The left-back’s rise has been extremely expeditious. Signing his first professional contract with Nice in May last year, excitement about the player’s future has only gotten bigger since.
The Frenchman spent his formative years at his local club Sporting Toulon Var and was picked up by Nice in 2010. In 2013/14, he made a move from the academy to be back-up to Timothee Kolodziejczak, who was the first choice for the position at the club.
Amavi got his chance to impress due to a string of injuries and a reported fall out with manager for “Kolo”. The youngster grabbed his chance with both hands and went on to appear 19 times and subsequently signed his first professional contract with the club. After Kolodziejczak left for Sevilla in the summer, Nice knew better than to spend uselessly on a new left-back.They had the right person in the squad already.
Regular watchers of Ligue 1 would know how sensational Amavi was last season. Voted as the best U-21 player by Whoscored.com for the 2014-15 season (he was also the second highest rated player in Ligue 1, next only to Zlatan Ibrahimovic), the 21-year-old started 36 league games for French side last season. His statistics across the season were massively impressive as he averaged an incredible 3.9 successful tackles every 90 minutes and an almost unbelievable 4.6 interceptions every 90 minutes. These are incredible numbers to have on your side, especially for a full-back.
Many claim that the Premier League is much tougher than its French counterpart and they may be right to some extent. After all, the other Ligue 1 signing for Villa are yet to really get their game going. Amavi though, has seamlessly eased into a new team and a new league. In the 5 games in the Premier League so far, he has played every minute and has clearly won the trust of Tim Sherwood. He has averaged 4.4 successful tackles and 3.6 successful interceptions every 90 minutes so far.
His defensive stats paint a picture of a solid full-back, someone who shields the defence well and ensures that the task is made easier for his teammates in the box. Amavi is also really good going forward and his pace and dribbling skills make him an asset offensively. He has to better his crossing skills as that is something that can further improve his game. Even though he does have an assist in the league, Amavi could improve the offensive side of his game.
The biggest advantage Aston Villa and Amavi have on their side is the fact that he is only 21. The Frenchman is mature beyond his years and his composure is seen on the field. Equally, he is still quite far away from reaching his peak years and if he can continue his development in the same manner, Aston Villa have a special player in their hands. For Amavi, this move came at the right time. He is playing at a competitive club and has a chance to make it to the Euros next year. The player needs guaranteed game time, something he is getting plenty of at Villa. Amavi has plenty of competition for the competition with the likes of Digne and Kurzawa vying for the same spot. The latter is his bigger competition at the moment. However, if he continues to play in the same manner, there is no reason why he can’t displace one of the senior players in the national squad.