Frederic Guilbert returns to Aston Villa this month after a loan spell at Strasbourg, but it remains unclear if he will be a key solution for Dean Smith this season.
The 26-year-old arrived at Villa in 2019 and has since gone on to make 31 appearances for the club. However, he was shipped out on loan to Strasbourg last season, where the Frenchman impressed for the most part and got himself the regular playing time that he perhaps craved.
Guilbert set to return to Villa for pre-season
As the Villa squad prepare to return for pre-season training this week, Guilbert will report back to Bodymoor Heath too and it’s likely that he’ll have a point to prove to Dean Smith and the coaching staff with uncertainty still hanging over his future.
Matty Cash has undoubtedly established himself as the first-choice right-back for Smith when available, but with Ahmed Elmohamady moving on after his contract expired this summer, that opens up a spot in the squad that needs to be filled before the season starts.
Ashley Young’s arrival gives us options given his versatility as he can address the general lack of depth in the full-back positions, but time will tell if that’s the last addition that Villa make in that department this summer.
Fresh from his successful run winning the FA Youth Cup last year, Kaine Kesler could be knocking on the door for opportunities at senior level before too long, and it’s hoped that he gets a chance to impress next season, perhaps as Smith rotates his squad in the cup competitions.
A void in the Villa squad for Guilbert to fill
However, if Villa want to kick on and compete for European qualification spots in the Premier League next season, we’ll need adequate and trusted back-up for Cash, and so time will tell if Guilbert’s the man to provide us with that.
There were obvious positives from his previous run in the side with his energy and tenacity, while the flaws in his game were evident too. It’s hoped that the opportunity to play regularly for Strasbourg has allowed him to work on his shortcomings while building and developing his strengths further to become an all-round solid option at right-back.
If he can showcase that in pre-season with Cash continuing his steady recovery from a hamstring strain which forced him to miss the last three games of last season, Guilbert could yet have a big role to play in a Villa shirt and allow the management to focus the remainder of the transfer budget on other areas in equal need of attention in the coming weeks.