Having joined Aston Villa in what was a £4.5m deal back in January of 2019, the Villa Park faithful may well have thought that Dean Smith had landed a player who would become the 50-year-old’s first-choice right-back for many a season to come.
This idea would have more than likely been reinforced in the club’s 2019/20 Premier League campaign, with the £5.4m-rated man going on to make 25 appearances in the top flight, over which the defender helped his side keep two clean sheets, registered two assists and created one big chance for his teammates, as well as making an average of 0.6 key passes, two interceptions, three tackles and winning 6.6 duels per game.
However, after the club’s £14.18m capture of Nottingham Forest right-back Matty Cash in the summer of 2020, Guilbert’s spot in the Villa starting XI appeared to be in considerable threat. That was something that ultimately proved to be the case when Smith failed to award the 26-year-old a single Premier League appearance in 2020/21, before sending the defender on loan to RC Strasbourg in the January transfer window.
Despite impressing over his 13 appearances in Ligue 1 last season, scoring one goal, registering four assists and averaging a SofaScore match rating of 7.16, Smith once again took the decision to loan the right-back out this summer, with Strasbourg being more than happy to welcome the defender back to Stade de la Meinau for the 2021/22 campaign.
And, so far this season, Guilbert has continued to impress over his six Ligue 1 appearances for Julien Stephan’s side, having already helped his side keep one clean sheet, provided one assist and created two big chances, in addition to making an average of 1.2 key passes, two interceptions, 2.2 tackles and winning five duels per fixture.
As such, while Cash is undeniably a fantastic right-back, considering the fact that the 24-year-old is Smith’s only senior option in the position, coupled with Guilbert’s impressive performances while out on loan, the 50-year-old’s decision to bomb the Frenchman out of his squad appears to be a rather strange one.
Indeed, Guilbert is undoubtedly a player who possesses the ability to push Cash for his starting spot in the Villa XI, something that would help to maintain the £19.8m-rated man’s current level of performance, while, should he pick up a serious injury, or even simply suffer a dip in form, Smith’s call regarding Guilbert could prove to be a rather big mistake on the part of the Villa manager.