Leandro Bacuna has had an indifferent Villa career to say the least. Following his talk of being a Champions League player, he faced constant derision for the remainder of the calamity that was the 2015-16 season.
It is safe to say he did not have many admirers among Villa fans when the season started in August. Many cited his attitude as a reason why he should be nowhere near the first team squad.
This season, he has knuckled down so far and has in fact proven to be a more than competent right back. With the arrival of Ritchie De Laet earlier this week, should Bacuna really be dropped for today’s visit to Ashton Gate?
Although it’s early days, it has been apparent that Roberto Di Matteo is a manager who runs by the rule of ‘if you play well, you keep your place’.
Having started the last three games at right back and looking assured, Bacuna has seized the opportunity and the side has only conceded once in those three games. Linking up well with Jordan Ayew, he surely does not deserve to be dropped.
After splashing out a reported £2.5 million on De Laet, who won both Premier League and Championship medals last season, Di Matteo will be looking to play his new signing.
If you compare the two players, there is not too much difference between them. De Laet is a defender who likes to get forward if possible. This is what Bacuna has looked to do so far this season, though he rarely gets forward and, with his delivery being hit and miss, this could be the reason why De Laet moves ahead of him in the pecking order.
A player known for his pace on the field, De Laet’s attacking ability would be a bonus with Jordan Ayew playing on the right-hand side. Ayew is obviously a striker playing on the wing and, with his tendency to cut inside and his desire to play narrow, the right-back will need to be able to supply the width. This could be another reason why De Laet might be the better option.
Looking at how the last few games have gone, I would be tempted to keep Bacuna in the side for the time being. Like the other Villans, he had very little confidence after last season’s debacle so denting it now would not be prudent.
As for the future, De Laet could be the better option as the season develops.