Aston Villa’s Kodjia in fine form heading into new season

This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…

Aston Villa may have only just touched down in Minnesota for their pre-season tour, but there is one player who has already begun to put his name firmly in the hat for selection ahead of the new campaign.

Through the door have arrived seven new faces since the Villans achieved promotion back in May.

There have been a host of defensive incomings whilst three attacking players in Wesley, Anwar El Ghazi and Jota have also been snapped up.

The former was signed for a considerable £22m and on the fee alone, you’d expect him to walk into the team on the opening day of the season.

Of course, there is a long way to go before they face Tottenham and how individuals do in pre-season will likely determine Dean Smith’s side as they travel to north London.

However, Jonathan Kodjia, who after the arrival of Wesley was perhaps an outside bet to start, has shown signs he won’t be giving up lightly.

The Ivorian found himself behind Tammy Abraham in the pecking order last term, sometimes being deployed as a winger. Despite that, he found himself in good form towards the back end of the season, netting three in his last six outings for the Villans.

Yet it’s at the Africa Cup of Nations where he’s shown his true colours, providing evidence that he’ll be ready and raring to go in the Premier League.

His nation were dumped out of the tournament at the hands of Algeria last Thursday but his performance was particularly good, ensuring they conceded for the first time in the tournament.

As well as scoring in the quarter-finals last week, he found the net against South Africa whilst also laying on an assist against Mali.

Versus Algeria, he was particularly dynamic, completing two dribbles and also winning three aerial duels.

His physical presence was particularly important over the course of the competition, drawing two fouls from the opposition every 90 minutes.

And it’s these types of performances that Smith will need from him next season.

Whether that be on the right or as a central striker, his commitment last season was unquestionable and he’ll be exactly the type of squad player they need in the Premier League.

It feels unlikely he’ll be a regular starter but he’s done his absolute best this summer to prove he perhaps deserves to be.