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Targett can allow Smith to be more flexible at Aston Villa next season

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 fifth signing of the summer transfer window was completed early last week as it was confirmed that left-back Matt Targett would join from Southampton.

The 23-year-old arrived for an undisclosed fee, bolstering Villa’s defensive line after they brought in Kortney Hause on a permanent basis a few weeks ago.

It now looks as though the Villans are building up a head of steam as they prepare for life in the top-flight but what exactly can Targett give Dean Smith that he was previously lacking?

On the chalkboard

The additions of both Hause and Tyrone Mings on loan last season gave a slight hint that Smith likes players with versatility.

When required, the pair of them can shift out to left-back and it’s perhaps Targett’s versatility that has again made the club’s manager swoop.

The former Saints man can give his new manager a different way of thinking and can allow him to be more flexible.

At times last term, Targett played further forward for Southampton, starting nine games as a wing-back compared to just four as a traditional No.3.

Bearing that in mind, it could allow the Villa boss to possibly rethink his system and formation when things aren’t going according to plan.

Villa have preferred a back four under Smith but with Targett’s ability to play in a more advanced role, they could shift to a three-man backline, with their new arrival playing as a left wing-back.

Previously they wouldn’t have been able to do this because of how one dimensional Neil Taylor is. He’s much more of an orthodox left-back and only really during international duty has he operated as a wing-back – domestically, he’s nearly always served as part of a back four.

This will, of course, be reliant on the Villans adding more centre-halves to their squad, but considering Ahmed Elmohamady’s qualities going forward, he could prove useful at right wing-back on the opposite side. After all, he claimed eight assists in 2018/19.

In comparison, Targett assisted three goals, playing 1.4 key passes a game and making the same number of crosses per 90 minutes.

In terms of his chance creation, he was the second-best left-back in the division on per-game metrics, only finding himself behind Lucas Digne for those who had played more than ten times in the Premier League.

He only featured on 16 occasions but it provides a glimpse of just how useful he can be in the final third.

If Smith bears this in mind, he could potentially move from a more traditional back four system which Villa operate in, to one that accommodates wing-backs and his new signing’s strengths.

We’ve seen a similar system work when Wolves were promoted, so it may work again with Villa now they’ve acquired Targett.

Article title: Targett can allow Smith to be more flexible at Aston Villa next season

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