Nicklas Helenius has been one topic of conversation amongst some Villa fans over the past couple of weeks. Why is he hardly getting a sniff?
When Helenius signed from Aalborg in the summer, Lambert stated that he is “one for the future” and that he would need time to develop in order for him to become a better striker.
In pre-season games, Helenius netted twice and looked quite impressive although the opposition on the whole had nothing on most Premier League teams.
Helenius looked dangerous in the air but it was evident that he wasn’t neither the quickest nor the strongest player to don the claret and blue shirt. This is why Lambert stated that he needs time to improve – he needs time to develop strength, power and speed.
Now, nearly six months on, the Dane has not featured heavily this campaign and there is growing concern amongst Villa fans that Lambert has not been impressed with what he has seen on the pitch or in training despite being a man who has belief in his players.
Helenius scored his first Villa goal in the FA Cup third round against Sheffield United and Lambert publicly praised him, saying: “I thought Nicklas did well when he came on. It was a great goal he scored. He’s had a bit of a hard time since he’s been here.” This is when we realised that Helenius has, presumably, been struggling to adapt to the intensity of the Premier League.
Lambert bought Libor Kozak from Lazio and now has Grant Holt from Wigan Athletic on loan. This has led some Villa fans to believe that Lambert is being unfair on Helenius as he is not giving him a fair crack in the league. I can guarantee that Lambert knows Helenius better than us so we have to accept he’s making the right call.
Is Helenius struggling to get to grips with the intensity? Is he home-sick? Is he simply out of his depth? I believe that Lambert has better options around him at the minute and that Helenius is finding it hard to compete, especially when all of the forward options are fit. Currently, Helenius is fifth in the pecking order behind Benteke, Agbonlahor, Weimann and now Holt – who is likely to be back-up for Kozak.
If Helenius wants to begin playing more in the Premier League, he needs to develop his strength and power. Indeed, he is probably in the process of doing so. However, it is a long process and developing the strength required to compete at this level will take time.
Does he have what it takes to adapt and become a decent asset for Aston Villa? Who knows? Things are not looking promising for him at the moment and I believe we could see him being sent out on loan either this month or in the summer so that he can get some game time.