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Aston Villa: Steven Gerrard had a howler by failing to sign Harry Souttar

Aston Villa appointed Unai Emery as their new manager ahead of the break for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and the Spaniard won his first two Premier League matches in charge of the club.

He came in to replace Steven Gerrard at the helm after the board decided that it was time to part ways with the former Rangers head coach.

The ex-Liverpool midfielder was relieved of his duties without completing a full season in the dugout, although he did have two transfer windows to shape his squad and he had a mare in his first one.

In October of last year, Football Insider named Villa as one of the Premier League teams, alongside Tottenham Hotspur and Everton, interested in a swoop to sign central defender Harry Souttar from Stoke City.

Gerrard was in charge of the Villans during the January transfer window that followed that report and opted against swooping to sign the enforcer, who suffered a knee injury that ruled him out for the rest of the season.

His refusal to sign a player who was set to be out of action for several months was an understandable one but Souttar’s form since returning to fitness suggests that he was worth taking a risk on.

Was not signing Souttar a mistake?

Yes

Yes

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No

The Australian international has been a standout at the World Cup in Qatar and his performances at the tournament could leave Villa supporters wondering what he could be like in a claret and blue shirt.

Against France in his side’s opening game, Souttar won two of his three duels, made five clearances and one interception, and completed 83% of his attempted passes – as per Sofascore.

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He then caught the eye with a phenomenal performance against Tunisia in a 1-0 win for his country in the second match. He made six clearances, three blocks, one tackle, and won five of his six individual battles – as per Sofascore.

During BBC’s coverage of the game, commentator Danny Murphy heaped praise on the central defender and claimed that he was “like Superman” during the match.

The centre-back followed that up by winning seven of his nine duels, making nine clearances, one block, two interceptions, and one tackle, in a 1-0 win over Denmark to secure a place in the last 16 of the competition – as per Sofascore.

Souttar also put in a superb showing in his Championship comeback against Luton in November – winning 90% of his duels as he made 16 clearances, two interceptions, and three tackles as Stoke won 2-0.

He still has plenty of time left on his hands, at the age of 24, and Gerrard could have signed him with a view to the future in spite of his injury issue.

The 6-foot-5 machine’s performances at the World Cup suggest that he has the quality to perform well at international level and his display against Luton proves that his injury has not caused him any significant regression.

Therefore, Gerrard had a howler by opting against a deal for the defender in January and should have taken a risk on the Australian, who is now dominating matches in Qatar.