Jordan Amavi joins an Aston Villa side that has struggled without decent left-backs for many years now, possibly since Wilfred Bouma suffered that horror ankle injury against Odense BK in 2008. At £10 million, much is already expected of the France Under-21 international. With Aly Cissokho and Kieran Richardson still at the club, Jordan Amavi is still expected to be a regular for Tim Sherwood having struggled near the bottom of the table with OGC Nice as he matches the trend of young talent entering Villa Park during the summer transfer window.
Amavi offers defensive solidity along with the ability to contribute to the attack, having scored four goals over the course of last season. Having scored a rating of 7.74 and being voted ‘best U21 player in Europe’ by WhoScored, the future France senior international offers a certain class that was lacking before Sherwood’s appointment.
At twenty-one, he has already made over fifty professional appearances and has established himself as one of top left-backs in France. He shows a natural defensive maturity despite his inexperience and this is demonstrated by his top interception and aerial statistics.
Amavi managed an average of 4.6 interceptions per game in 2014-15, showing his ability to read the game and his readiness to get to the ball. This urgency is essential to Aston Villa, as the side needs energy and dynamism due to Sherwood’s high tempo game. This also suggests Amavi is blessed with good positional sense.
The full-back, who has also impressed at wing-back, averages 3.9 tackles per game, which is more notable considering that he played in a struggling side all season and was put under immense pressure having to slot in as the main left-back after Timothee Kolodziejzca joined Sevilla in the summer of 2014. Only half of his tackles have been successful, showing he still has work to do, but he still has the skill to play in the Premier League.
Amavi does have the strength of good aerial ability and also contributed two headed goals last season. One, of many, key things the Villans struggled with last season was defending from corners and free-kicks so Amavi will be an excellent help in eradicating that particular weakness.
What makes Amavi stand out is his offensive ability from full-back and his contribution to attacking play. Defenders have struggled to cope with his dribbling ability as he is comfortable with cutting inside and carrying the ball forward.
His enthusiasm and work rate have been key factors to his success thus far and he is to cause trouble going forward whilst still being strong defensively, much like France’s preferred left-back Layvin Kurzawa.
Despite this strength going forward, he has only averaged 0.7 crosses a game. This worries me considering that Aston Villa’s lack of able crossers frustrated me last season. It’s exactly the type of service Christian Benteke lacked, just as Libor Kozak will unless the issue is addressed.
At times, Amavi shows his relative inexperience by making silly errors. The main weakness in his game that concerns me is his lack of focus and his struggle to hold on to the ball. This is something many of our otherwise quality players such as Carlos Sanchez and Leandro Bacuna have suffered from. His poor disciplinary record also shows this lack of experience – he received eleven yellow cards and averaged 1.8 fouls per game last season.
Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa Football Club have acquired a top player who will be world class in the future if he progresses as expected. Amavi will be a vast defensive improvement on Richardson and will hopefully be more consistent than Aly Cissokho, a player I still value very highly as an option at left-back. Amavi will have a huge price tag to live up to but he is destined to play at the highest level. If his new team cannot offer him the opportunities he wants, his value will at least increase over the next few years, as long as there’s no dodgy £8 million release clause within his five-year contract!