Aston Villa have crowned their Premier League return with no fewer than six new signings already this summer with manager Dean Smith wanting more! John Percy of the Telegraph claims that Villa want eight or nine new players which means that the spending isn’t going to stop anytime soon. It would make sense with there still being two glaring holes amongst the Championship playoff winning squad – in goal, where they have been linked to Jack Butland, Tom Heaton and Alex McCarthy and out on the wing, where Anwar El Ghazi’s permanent move is only half the slice of pie.
Reports in recent weeks suggest that Villa’s chiefs aren’t afraid to dip into the league they were just promoted from in order to strengthen their squad – Jota has already signed from Birmingham City whilst they have been linked to Bristol City’s Adam Webster and Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips. Neither position may be of a more pressing need than someone who can operate the flanks adequately enough – in the Championship there’s a player that outperformed Manchester United-bound Daniel James last season yet as it stands, he’s likely to remain in England’s second-tier which would be absolutely criminal.
Brentford’s Said Benrahma enjoyed an outstanding first season in English football by scoring 11 goals in 45 appearances – also registering 14 assists (the most in the Championship), nine Man of the Match awards and averaging a rating of 7.26. By comparison, the £15m-rated James only scored four goals, assisted seven, won two MOTM awards and averaged just 6.95 in 41 appearances. The Express & Star reported last month that Brentford would only be after £20m for the Algerian and that would be quite the coup considering that’s only a £5m increase on a player he greatly eclipsed last season. In fact, Benrahma’s numbers could have been even more inflated had he not been ruled out for the rest of the season following an ankle injury in April. It also meant the 23-year-old was unavailable for Algeria’s Africa Cup of Nations campaign this summer.
The winger would bring some versatility to Smith’s side too, being able to operate anywhere behind the striker as well as on both flanks. Benrahma’s best performances came from the left-wing position, averaging 7.90 per game. He ranked inside the top-ten in the Championship for shots per game (2.9) – the same as Villa’s former loan ace Tammy Abraham (who’s a striker), third for key passes per game (2.3) – only Jack Grealish could match that and first for dribbles per game (2.4) – more than any player in the Villa squad.
So, not only did Benrahma outperform one Premier League-bound player but he too exceeded the majority of Villa’s squad who return to the Premier League for the first time in three years themselves. If Smith believes the likes of Grealish and John McGinn can step-up to that level of football then it would be a no-brainer to see the Algerian winger make a similar transition. He would certainly put fans on the edge of their seats as he just oozes class on and off the ball.