Sunday, January 29, 2023

Aston Villa Are Closing In On The Capture Of This Belgian Ace: A Smart Move By Dean Smith

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Anas Molla
An ageing teenager who apparently still likes Twenty One Pilots and HIMYM. Also fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology and history. Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam.

According to L’Equipe, as cited by GFFN, Aston Villa are closing in on the capture of Reims defender Bjorn Engels. It is believed that the newly promoted Premier League outfit is in advanced negotiation with the defender and the deal could soon be finalised. The report doesn’t state how much Engels is going to cost, but the Belgian is contracted to Reims until 2023.

Engels’ success in Ligue 1

A product of the Club Brugge youth academy, Engels rose to prominence in the Belgian League, which earned him a big money move to Olympiacos back in 2017. But, the defender endured a stop-start debut campaign with the Greek giants, making 17 league appearances before he was shipped out on loan to Reims last summer.

Engels impressed at Reims in what was his debut season in Ligue 1. He was an ever-present figure in the backline, making 33 league appearances, during which he was also involved in two goals. The Belgian’s services at the back were crucial as ‎Les Rouge et Blanc finished eighth in the league table while boasting an impressive defensive record.

As a result of his consistent performances, Engels’ loan move was made permanent by Reims for a fee of €4 million. But, it seems like the French outfit isn’t the only admirer of the ex-Brugge star, with Aston Villa showing a keen interest.

What can Engels bring to the table?

Engels is largely known for his physically imposing 1.94m frame that not only hands him a considerable advantage in terms of aerial duels but also makes him an intimidating figure for the attackers. The Belgian centre-back is proficient in reading the game as well, having averaged 1.3 interceptions per game last season.

Furthermore, the 24-year-old is a dogged defender, who often impresses in a deep defensive block system. But, what makes him such a sought-after centre-half is his aerial prowess, with the Reims star winning 3.1 headed duels per game.

Stat courtesy: Whoscored

Is Engels a good target for Aston Villa?

Villa have reinforced their defensive department this week by bringing back Tyrone Mings on a permanent deal from AFC Bournemouth. They have also roped in Brentford defender Ezri Konsa, and these two will undoubtedly provide the much-needed depth in the central defensive slots.

That being said, neither of these are experienced in top-flight football, meaning it remains a doubt as to whether or not they will able to cope with the rigours of the Premier League next season. Engels, in that regard, might have been a logical target for the Villans.

The Belgian has shown that he is capable of playing at a higher level of football with his performances in Ligue 1 last term. And at the age of 24, he could be an excellent long-term investment for Dean Smith’s side. However, it remains to be seen whether they will want to splash the cash on yet another centre-back after signing Mings and Konsa this week.

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