It may only be three games into the new Premier League season for Aston Villa, although pressure is seemingly already mounting on manager Steven Gerrard, with little improvement having been made from last term despite a strong summer of recruitment.
Two defeats and a win thus far have ensured that the former Rangers boss has a dismal record of 14 defeats from his opening 30 league games in charge at Villa Park since his appointment back in November, having failed as yet to have the desired impact.
The 42-year-old has not been helped, however, by the loss of summer signing Diego Carlos, with the Brazilian defender set to be out for an extended period of time after suffering an Achilles’ injury in the victory over Everton last week.
The absence of the former Sevilla man could well see the Midlands outfit forced back into the market for another centre-back before the September deadline, with Chelsea starlet Trevoh Chalobah one name that has emerged on the rumour mill of late.
The suggestion is that the Villans are eyeing a loan swoop for the 23-year-old before the end of the window, with the Sierra Leone-born menace – who is also attracting interest from Tottenham Hotspur – believed to be wary of losing his place at Stamford Bridge.
That inability to earn a regular role – particularly following the exodus of centre-backs in the capital over the summer – has somewhat come as a surprise, following what was a real breakthrough campaign last time out for the £18m-rated “colossus”, as described by journalist Joe Krishnan.
After having spent the previous three seasons out on loan, the former Three Lions youth international was thrust into the first-team set-up by Tuchel at the start of last season, going on to feature 31 times in all competitions for his current side.
That bright impact had seen the £20k-per-week brute even likened to a young Virgil van Dijk by pundit Ian Wright, with those at Villa Park no doubt hoping that they could have their own version of the Liverpool leader on their hands if they are to sign the Chelsea gem.
Speaking about the youngster, Wright said: “You know what he reminded me of, not the same player, not the same stature, but the way Virgil Van Dijk when he played for Celtic, people said he’s just taking liberties just because he’s good and not in the same standard [as others].”
A “composed” figure – as described by Krishnan – much like the Dutchman, Chalobah seemingly has a similar statistical record to that of the 31-year-old with regards to their quality in possession, as the younger man has a 91.2% pass completion rate per 90, while the Reds hero averages 90.7% for the same metric – albeit with the latter man having played more minutes.
Both also possessing impressive size and stature – with Van Dijk standing at 6 foot 4 and Chalobah at 6 foot 3 – they also provide a real threat in an attacking sense, having each scored three league goals last term.
Although the one-time Lorient loanee has some way to go to match the standing of a player whom Michael Owen dubbed the “best centre-half of all time”, it is intriguing the comparisons that can be made between the pair.
Amid their current woes, Gerrard would no doubt love to have a Van Dijk-esque figure in his Villa side this season.