With Aston Villa’s business in the January transfer window turning out to be quite limited in terms of incomings, there was one important late decision that was made on deadline day.
As per the club’s statement, Bertrand Traore has been recalled from his loan spell in Turkey, and while he is currently recovering from an injury, the expectation is that he will now form part of Unai Emery’s squad for the rest of the season.
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The 27-year-old joined us from Lyon in September 2020, and went on to register eight goals and seven assists in 48 appearances for the club before falling down the pecking order and being limited to a bit-part role in the squad.
That in turn led to the decision to loan him out last summer, but with 18 months remaining on his current contract, Traore now has a fresh opportunity to prove his worth and potentially secure a place in Emery’s long-term plans.
His priority at this stage is to recover from his injury and be available to the Villa boss as soon as possible, and we’ll see if he fits into the ideas and style of play of the Spanish tactician to play a role for us in the coming months.
Emery made no secret of his desire to sign a winger in January as he wanted a specific profile added to the squad, but after that failed to materialise, it seems Traore could, and perhaps will have to, now emerge as an unexpected solution.
If you consider some of the names that were being linked, they do share certain characteristics and qualities with the Burkina Faso international, namely the ability to provide width, taking players on and a left-footed option to cut inside from the right wing and pose a direct goalscoring threat.
With his technical quality, flair and creativity in the final third, and particularly with his ability to provide width on the right wing to add a balance to our attacking play, he can potentially provide Emery with an important option in that role on the right side of midfield.
A knock-on effect of that could also be that it allows Leon Bailey to be deployed further forward alongside Ollie Watkins, while the likes of John McGinn, Jacob Ramsey and others who have filled in well in that position under Emery, can play in their preferred and more natural roles through the middle or further forward.
There’s a lot of question marks that need to be addressed first though to showcase that Traore can be an effective solution in Emery’s system and philosophy, most notably whether or not he can provide the defensive work ethic and discipline needed to play his part in both phases of the game.
Nevertheless, whether it’s as an impact substitute who can provide something different in the final third if needed or a bigger role, Villa are ultimately now short of options until the summer, and so it’s hoped that Traore can now make an important contribution if he is indeed given a fresh chance under Emery.