Yannick Bolasie’s loan agreement with Aston Villa was surprisingly terminated on Monday afternoon. The DR Congo international has returned to his parent club, Everton.
Bolasie was seen as a massive coup by the majority of supporters upon his arrival. Gazumping Middlesbrough and Tony Pulis sweetened the deal and reaffirmed to many of us that we were still a big draw. However, it’s clear that Bolasie‘s departure won’t be cried over by all that many Villans right now.
There are several interesting aspects to this development. As the club admitted in its statement, it was Bolasie himself who exercised an option in the agreement to end the deal prematurely. After such a promising beginning and working his way back to somewhere near full fitness, it has been plain to see in recent weeks that the work rate and effort put in by Bolasie has fallen off a cliff. If anything, his form should’ve continuously improved with fitness.
It’s a clear indication that Bolasie’s heart just wasn’t in this. And I can kind of understand it to an extent. At 29 years old, he has a limited amount of time left to play top-level football; why waste it in the Championship.
In hindsight, the move was never a good one for the club. Yes, we had bought in a player who, when fit, is more than capable of playing in the Premier League. But the wages we were paying for that privilege, anywhere between £70k-£80k a week depending on which story you read, showed that the club hadn’t learned any lessons from the previous regime.
Bolasie was another short term fix. A legacy of Steve Bruce’s reign. Loan in an older, expensive player with recent injury problems. Ship out young and promising talent in need of games. Whilst we saw two or three really good performances, full of power, pace and trickery, we certainly didn’t see enough of it. It was never value for money from Villa’s perspective.
There is a case to argue that Villa should’ve acted first and terminated the loan agreement themselves. For me, that would’ve shown an understanding by the club that the money being spent was not being justified and highlighted a real and definite shift in policy. Perhaps most importantly, it was also surely not sustainable. But I suppose if you have a player of Bolasie’s potential quality who could have an effect on a promotion push, it’s a brave move to simply give that up.
Bolasie should have stepped up
I had also expected Bolasie to massively step up in Jack Grealish’s absence in particular. As an experienced and senior player, who can clearly play at a higher level. I think there was a real opportunity for him to help drag the club through a difficult period and set an example. If anything, it seems that Bolasie withdrew into himself and completely shied away from that responsibility though.
As I alluded to earlier, Bolasie’s departure does see the return of Andre Green though, and that is welcome news. I wrote back in August that I thought it was detrimental to have sent the youngster out on loan at a crucial stage in his development. Whilst the move to Portsmouth didn’t quite go as expected, I still think he is more than capable to play a role for us.
A lively half-hour showing in the 2-2 draw with Hull City last weekend bodes well for Green. He should get a decent amount of minutes under his belt between now and the end of the season. Smith seems an ideal manager for his direct style of play and Green must take the opportunities that he will surely be given.
All in all, Bolasie’s departure is the right decision for everyone involved. Aston Villa are a Championship club. We are far from guaranteed to even be in the playoffs; we cannot afford to be paying wages anywhere near £70k a week anymore. And in my opinion, Green should never have been let go in the first place.
I don’t think any Villa fan will bear Bolasie any ill feeling, but it’s clear that for the money being paid, we were getting the raw end of the deal. Loan deals can work out and at this level, sometimes they are necessary to inject some quality. But Bolasie’s legacy at Villa should now only serve as a reminder for the club to develop the talent we already possess. We must also avoid any more of these ridiculously expensive deals. At least until we can truly afford them!