In a recent interview with Football FanCast, Express & Star journalist Luke Hatfield has reckoned that the Aston Villa fans would have loved Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel if the Villans managed to acquire his services earlier this summer. Hatfield said,
“Witsel would’ve obviously fitted into the position Villa probably needed to address.
“But he’s not the youngest in the world and he’s just coming off a really serious Achilles injury.
“Obviously he would’ve been an amazing signing for fans and the fans would’ve been right behind it. On paper, it would always look good, but in practice, I’m not too sure. But Villa fans would’ve been hailing it as a real coup.”
Witsel’s Growing Injury Concerns At Signal Iduna Park
Witsel had an injury-ravaged season at Dortmund recently as he missed a lot of key games for them because of an Achilles tendon rupture. The Belgian sensation made just 22 appearances for the German club in the previous campaign, scoring one goal in the process on all fronts.
The 32-year-old caught the eye with the limited game time he received over the past ten months after he averaged 1.2 tackles, 1.5 interceptions, 0.7 clearances, 0.8 shots and 0.5 dribbles per game in the Bundesliga. He was even accurate when distributing the ball from midfield as evidenced by his pass completion rate of 93.7% in league football (stats via whoscored).
Should The Villans Go Back In For Witsel In January?
Witsel can time his tackles well to make some crucial interceptions for his side at the centre of the park. He remains an excellent passer of the ball and is a strong presence in midfield. The Belgian international has got a great work ethic and can play a wide variety of passes going forward. However, his lack of pace and poor injury record makes him a risky option for any of his potential suitors, including the Villans.
At 32, Witsel would believe that he still has a lot to offer at the highest level. Still, it would quite a gamble for him to seal a move to English football this late in his playing career as there are plenty of question marks over whether he could handle the physical nature and high intensity of Premier League football week in week out.
Getting Witsel in the recently concluded summer transfer window would have made sense for the Villans. However, the Belgian is set to turn 33 in January, so he won’t be a long-term fix to Dean Smith’s midfield concerns at Villa Park. Therefore, the West Midlands outfit would be better off targeting someone younger than Witsel when the transfer window reopens in January.