The perfect way to kick-start Aston Villa’s rebuild?

Yesterday it was announced that Aston Villa have agreed a £9.5m fee with Wigan Athletic for Charles N’Zogbia and the 25-year-old is set travel down to Villa Park to discuss personal terms today.

The French international who was last capped in 2010, will be a straight forward replacement on the left wing for the recently departed Stuart Downing and will become McLeish’s second summer signing after capturing N’Zogbia’s former Newcastle teammate Shay Given from Man City last week.

McLeish has long been an admirer of N’Zogbia and actually came within a whisker of signing him last summer for his former club Birmingham City but the deal collapsed at the 11th hour as they couldn’t agree personal terms. So although a fee has now been agreed it is still not 100% that he will be joining the club. However if as expected he does agree terms this week, McLeish will be hoping that he will be a suitable replacement for Downing and Young who had started to build up a potent attacking force alongside Darren Bent last season.

Villa have so far raised over £40 million from player sales this summer and N’Zogbia will be a major part of a new look Aston Villa side with the Alan Hutton and Scott Parker two other possible arrivals at Villa Park. Although he has experienced controversy in the past especially at Newcastle, I can see McLeish being disciplined with the winger and he will make sure the Villa fans only see N’Zogbia’s good side.

Interestingly he is actually classed as a home-grown player after being affiliated with an English club since the age of 18 when he brought over by Newcastle from Le Havre and will count as one of the eight players home-grown players needed in Villa’s 25-man-squad. This make it even more of a transfer bargain as everyone has seen that English players are moving at overinflated transfer fees partly due to this rule.

With Downing and Young sold, Villa were looking for a player that can create threats to the opposition and would also be responsible for set-pieces. In N’Zogbia they have this player as he is known for his match-winning ability, his excellent all round play and is one of the most exciting players to watch in the Premier League. He can also operate on either flank or as an attacking midfielder so it is understandable why Villa have snapped him up.

It will be a new challenge for N’Zogbia who was influential in keeping the Latics in the Premier League last season and his two goals against West Ham in the penultimate game of the season all but secured their survival. Dave Whelan recently said of his prized asset: “I have always said for £10 million he is an absolute snip, if Stewart Downing can change hands for £20 million I don’t know what Charles is worth.”

He contributed with ten goals and seven assists for the Latics last season which is not too different to Downing’s total of seven goals and nine assists and this shows what a good deal Villa are getting with a reported £10.5 million difference in transfer fees.

With only 12 months left on his contract Wigan are getting a decent price for the winger but in terms of Downing’s move, it is still relatively cheap. He will only improve at a bigger club and in the right environment so N’Zogbia could be worth a lot more in the future. Downing’s £20m price tag was over-inflated by the fact he still had four years left on his contract at Villa Park but Villa fans must feel they are the end of a very good deal.

Villa fans would have been saddened to see their player of the year Downing leave after his impressive form last season but I feel they are getting a more than adequate replacement in N’Zogbia. He has a similar goal scoring record, has the ability to change a game and is signing at a very reasonable price. The rebuilding has begun and securing N’Zogbia’s signature would be a great way to kick-start it.

Do you agree? Do you think N’Zogbia is the right man to replace Downing? Follow me on twitter @aidanmccartney