When Bjorn Engels joined Aston Villa in the summer of 2019, Dean Smith would no doubt have been hoping that the 6 foot 4 giant would help create a formidable back-line for the club at Premier League level.
Signed for a reported £9m from French side Reims, Engels was among a clutch of signings spearheaded by the influence of then sporting director, Suso.
Speaking after confirmation of his arrival at Villa Park, Smith said: “Björn is a player that I’ve been watching for the past 18 months. We’re very happy to have secured his services and look forward to working with him.”
But, sadly for both Engels and Villa, things just haven’t quite worked out for either party.
Injuries have played a considerable part in his lack of game-time for the club, but it’s been quite telling that even despite recovering from a couple of different problems this season, he’s still yet to make a single competitive appearance this campaign – the Belgian has either been an unnamed substitute or just completely out of the match-day squad.
And, earlier this calendar year, former Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor urged the club to get rid of him, saying: “It’s time for him to move on. The problem with the Premier League now is you have to have pace in defence.
“Unless you’re an unbelievable defender and you can read the game unbelievably you need to have the pace at the back. That’s what Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause allow you. If they make a mistake they’ve got the pace to make up for it. If they’re left one-on-one they’ve got the pace to stop the attacker. The problem with Engels is that if he’s left one-on-one he hasn’t got that pace so he’s going to get found out a bit.”
Now, CIES have him valued at just £1.7m, a real statement of just how far his stock has fallen during his time at Villa Park, and perhaps throwing even further weight behind why the club should simply cut their losses on him.
With Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings fully established as the club’s main centre-back partnership, there’s simply no room for Engels. While £9m may not sound like too much in the modern market, it’s still surely a transfer blunder that Villa regret making.