After our first look at our January signing Alex Moreno, Aston Villa boss Unai Emery appears to have added a top recruit to bolster his squad.
The 29-year-old made his Villa debut in our 2-1 win over Leeds Utd on Friday night, and while there is naturally still much more to come from him, it was an impressive first glimpse at what he will bring to the side.
What made it even more promising was the limited amount of time he would have had to prepare for it, and that in itself says a lot about the character and talent that we’ve signed to improve our options on the left side.
Moreno late arrival, thrust into action and still shines
The ex-Real Betis left-back only arrived at Bodymoor Heath on Wednesday, and although he was shown to have been out on the training pitches and in the gym with his new teammates almost immediately, that is a quick turnaround to the Leeds game.
Not only would that whole process have been difficult for him to acclimatise and settle in his new surroundings on and off the pitch, but he was then thrust into action just 10 minutes into the game after Lucas Digne’s injury, and was forced to adapt and adjust to the new tempo and intensity that he will be facing in the Premier League.
That can’t be easy for any player regardless of how experienced they are, especially in defence as there has to be solid communication and chemistry with the rest of the backline to stay organised and tight.
It was tricky for Moreno, as he did struggle initially after coming on. However, whether it was his brilliant covering run to divert a goal-bound effort wide for a corner, his technical quality to help us break forward down the left or his ability to get into advanced positions and become a direct goal threat himself, there were so many positives to take.
Moreno registered three clearances, one blocked shot and one clearance off the line while winning four of 12 duels, having also had 81 touches of the ball, 67 percent passing completion, one key pass and two efforts on goal.
It’s clear how Emery intends to use him and how heavily involved he will be when on the pitch, as he’ll no doubt be given license to break forward with pace and not only stretch the pitch for us – which in turn will create space for those who like to drift inside namely the likes of Jacob Ramsey and Emiliano Buendia – but also offer more quality with the final ball in the final third with his cut backs and accurate deliveries.
With his energy and stamina, Moreno will get up and down the left flank all game, and if he can put in consistent, solid defensive shifts too, then we’ve added an excellent piece to the side.
Time will tell how long Digne is now ruled out for, but based on his performance on his Villa debut, we can feel reassured that Moreno will be able to fill that void and continue to impress.