This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Aston Villa’s battle to stay in the Premier League next season will be an intriguing one to monitor.
They’ve already been effective in the transfer market, bringing no fewer than five new faces in through the door.
However, it’s one of their January arrivals who could prove to be key next season.
Back in January, Frederic Guilbert signed for the club from Ligue 1 outfit Caen. As part of the deal, the Frenchman was loaned back in order to continue his development.
It’s unlikely that come the time he properly met up with his new teammates this summer, he’d have expected to be playing Premier League football but that’s the reality now facing him.
And as they gear up for a new season in the top-flight, there’s a pivotal area from his time in France that suggests he could well be a crucial asset for the Midlands club.
It’s probable that he’ll face a battle to start with Ahmed Elmohamady at right-back but Guilbert has shown just how much quality he has in defensive situations.
Last season, he made a mighty 2.9 tackles per game for Caen, a stat that not only blows everyone out of the water at Villa, but also comes close to the top of the tree in terms of Premier League statistics.
As a result, the Villans can look towards the 5 foot 10 man as a defensively reliable asset next term.
In terms of the challenges he made, he was hugely consistent and there wasn’t a single game that he played in Ligue 1 where he failed to make a successful tackle on an opponent.
His best qualities lie going forward, having claimed eight assists, but it’s likely Villa will need to soak up far more pressure in the Premier League. And for a team whose best tackler was John McGinn, who averaged 2.1 per game, improvement is needed.
Bearing that in mind, if Guilbert can usurp Elmohamady to become the regular No.2, he could prove essential under Smith next term.