Aston Villa’s striker shortage situation appears as if it isn’t going to be resolved until the very end of the transfer window, with a whole host of names still being thrown around in the media.
Things should improve now the arrival of Mbwana Samatta from Genk has been confirmed. But one player who certainly won’t be contributing any further is Jonathan Kodjia.
The Ivorian striker has now officially completed a move to Qatari side Al-Gharafa for £2.5 million, bringing an end to his three and half year stay at in B6.
Kodjia’s last couple of months at Villa saw him draw a lot of criticism from supporters, a lot of it unfair in my opinion. With his contract expiring this summer, I think it was obvious to all that it was extremely unlikely to be renewed. Manager Dean Smith’s reluctance to use Kodjia even after Wesley’s season-ending injury was the final nail in the coffin.
Throughout his time at Villa, there were some supporters who just never got on board with Kodjia’s playing style. Accusations of being lazy and selfish dogged his career here. But honestly, I just never got the selfish thing.
I always felt Kodjia was such an asset to have in the side. A mercurial talent, so direct in his play and you could tell defenders hated coming up against his unpredictability. Did he know what he was about to do next? Probably not. But I loved that. And I loved the fact that he was always willing to take the shot on. That is exactly what I want from my striker; to have boundless amounts of confidence in their own ability rather than overthinking things and ending up neither passing or shooting.
Kodjia was a rare positive in Villa’s first Championship season. Signed for a fee worth up to £15 million from Bristol City, he scored on his debut and really began banging in the goals upon Steve Bruce’s arrival, securing him a Championship player of the month award in November. A lean January gave way to Kodjia returning to stellar form which saw Villa record 7 wins in 8 games. Despite faint hopes of a playoff push, in reality, it was Kodjia’s goals which actually saved Villa from a relegation scrap that year.
A broken ankle suffered in the penultimate game of that season would be a huge turning point in Kodjia’s career though. The following season was effectively a write-off. Kodjia came back too early from injury and reinjured the ankle on international duty with Ivory Coast causing him to miss a huge chunk of the campaign.
But whilst supporters began to write Kodjia off, his contribution in our promotion year shouldn’t be underestimated. Despite playing in a wide position due to Tammy Abraham’s constant presence up front, he scored some incredibly important goals.
He took a pressure penalty in the crucial turnaround match up at Rotherham, after Abraham himself had missed a first-half spot-kick, and all after just being introduced as sub after Tyrone Ming’s sending off. Everyone remembers Jack Grealish’s superb goal in that match, but without Kodjia’s calmness, it would’ve meant little.
Similarly, it was Kodjia who scooped in the only goal of a 1-0 victory against Millwall which effectively secured a playoff spot for Villa and sealed a historic tenth straight win for the club. And yes, that was the day he decided to play his leg as a guitar in front of the North Stand.
And it’s those moments which I’ll miss. There was a charisma in his personality which shone through in his play. In an age of players being sterile and scripted, Kodjia was there to enjoy himself. He showed real emotion and a real joy of playing football and trying to score goals. I’ve also no doubt that he’ll be a huge miss in the dressing room.
Over the last few years, I’ve written a few separate pieces on Kodjia. For me, a real mark of the man is the fact that on each occasion, he has taken the time to DM me off his own back letting me know he’s had a read of the piece and thanking me for writing about him. Yes, Jimy Danger slid into my DM’s. It’s a little thing, but it shows that there is gratitude towards the supporters in general I think – he didn’t need to bother to take the time to interact with me in that way.
Personally, I’ll miss Kodjia and, as well as wondering whether his wrist would ever heal, I would’ve liked to see him given more of a chance in the Premier League. I think he deserved it after being through our Championship journey and I think his unpredictability could’ve been a real asset to us. It’s a shame he’ll never now get to test himself at the highest level.
Whether you agree with that or not is up to you of course. Football is all about opinions. But one thing we should all agree on is that Jimy Danger was an extremely important part of our Championship years – whether helping to keep us away from serious relegation danger or having a real impact in us gaining promotion. Either way, we wouldn’t be sitting in the Premier League again without him, and he deserves a hell of a lot of respect for his effort and contribution during some of our most turbulent years.