Dean Smith may have just suffered an Aston Villa howler on transfer deadline day after allowing Frederic Guilbert to join Strasbourg on loan.
Reports emerged early on Tuesday that the Frenchman could be set for a return to the side he spent the second-half of last season on loan at, and that news was then later confirmed by the Midlands club themselves.
The Express and Star’s Matt Maher added: “Guilbert has not featured in the Premier League for Villa since the 2019-20 season and has been allowed to leave in order to find more game-time.
“Though his exit leaves Matty Cash as Villa’s only recognised right-back but with Ezri Konsa and Axel Tuanzene both able to play the position, boss Dean Smith is confident he has ample cover.”
Seeing a second-choice right-back leave on loan doesn’t seem like the most worrying thing to happen, but given the genuine lack of natural cover for Matty Cash, the decision to let Guilbert leave is a worrying one for fans.
The Frenchman enjoyed a fine half-a-campaign at Strasbourg earlier this year, scoring once and providing another four assists in just 13 games for the club.
As well as looking a dangerous threat going forward, he also averaged an impressive 2.8 tackles and 2.5 interceptions per game in Ligue 1 – to put that into context, no Villa player got even close to matching those numbers in the top-flight.
Guilbert also took his only real chance of this season with both hands against Barrow in the Carabao Cup, scoring one and making one en route to a very fine performance.
Writing in his post-match player ratings for The Birmingham Mail that night, Preece gave him an eight, saying: “Always keen to provide an outlet down the right, Guilbert didn’t always get it right – but when he did, the goods followed. One low cross in the first half was too close to the keeper, but his stood up ball for El Ghazi’s second goal was on the money. Took his goal superbly.”
Guilbert showed in that game and on loan at Strasbourg last season the real benefits of having a natural right-back playing in that role, something the likes of Ashley Young, Axel Tuanzebe and Ezri Konsa cannot really offer given their age and respective positions.
Were Cash to get injured, and even miss a few games or even more than that, Smith’s decision to let Guilbert will be looked back upon with a real sense of frustration.
It’s news that is sure to have Villa fans worried.