This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Aston Villa’s chief executive officer Christian Purslow spoke out in the summer regarding the split in the club’s extensive transfer business that saw 12 new players arrive in a spending spree of over £130m.
Firstly, purchases that represented an immediate benefit to the club, yet also acquisitions that had the potential to “establish themselves in the Premier League and in doing so, grow their value”, according to Purslow.
One player who unquestionably belongs to the category of the latter is former Brentford man, Ezri Konsa.
The centre-back was signed from the west London side in a reported £12m deal, but the 22-year-old has been unable to earn a start in the Premier League so far this season – playing just 15 minutes in a cameo when Villa were 5-0 up against Norwich.
The former England U21 international has been unlucky to not feature regularly in the league, owing largely to the partnership that has formed between Bjorn Engels and Tyrone Mings.
But if Purslow’s comments regarding the potential increase in value of younger prospects are to come true, Villa must give these players the opportunity to perform and impress.
For now, it appears the experience and solidity that Mings and Engels are able to offer aligns strongly to Smith’s primary goal this season in ensuring survival – and rightfully so.
But as January begins to loom and thoughts turn to Villa’s plans for the 2020 summer window, Konsa is a player of such unquestionable potential who must be given opportunities if the club are to retain his services alongside increasing his value as outlined by Purslow this summer.
Smith has a balancing act to perform in ensuring the West Midlands’ side can retain their Premier League status whilst also giving players the opportunity to perform in the top-flight, but a player such as Konsa is certainly deserving of more game-time.
After all, he was mightily impressive in the second tier last term, particularly with his ball-playing ability – one of the primary attributes a modern defender possesses. He completed 87.7% of his passes and could help bring added composure to Villa.
Despite Purslow’s ambitions, the potential Konsa can bring may have to wait. Either way, Smith faces a difficult decision.