Tony Pulis can rescue the career of Henri Lansbury and give Middlesbrough a top-draw Championship midfielder to aid their quest for Premier League promotion.
Lansbury emerged out of Arsenal’s academy and looked set to be a big name, dazzling against Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup and producing wonder strikes for England’s youth outfits.
It never really worked out at the Emirates but the midfielder found his level in the Championship after joining Nottingham Forest. In 150 appearances at the City Ground, the Enfield-born playmaker scored 33 times and showed that the second-tier was his calling.
In each of his four and a half seasons at Forest, the six-foot Londoner achieved a pass success rate higher than 74% and regularly won the ball back to cement his importance through his all-round play – earning him the club’s captaincy.
Like at Arsenal, though, things have not worked out for Lansbury since moving to Aston Villa in 2017 – featuring just 28 times so far. In his rare outings, the central midfielder has still managed to match his involvement for Forest but has not been seen in the same light by his managers.
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The 28-year-old may have been frozen out at Villa under Steve Bruce and has so far not shown Dean Smith why he should be recalled, but in Lansbury still lies one of the best midfielders in the Championship.
It is now beyond the time to call quits on his spell at Villa Park and seek a new home, finding somewhere that will give Lansbury the chance to bring his skill to the pitch again, and that should be at Boro.
Adam Clayton and Jonny Howson have been Pulis’ go-to-guys so far, alongside the defensive presence of Muhamed Besic, and the Villa outcast would not push either aside from the off but would instantly provide greater depth than what George Saville and Lewis Wing offer.
Lansbury’s measured approach will present the Welsh coach with a superior stand-in, and if the Teessiders are to continue a promotion challenge that relies on close games going their way an inadequate backup will cost vital points.
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