It has been an eventful summer for Aston Villa as several key players have left the squad including most notably, Ashley Young and Stewart Downing. With the loss of the two key wingers, new manager Alex McLeish must have thought that signing a replacement was instrumental for the club. As a result, the Villans locked up French international Charles N’Zogbia from Wigan for £9.5 million in a move that will likely greatly benefit the squad and offset the loss of Downing.
The French playmaker already has McLeish confident that he will hit the ground running and enhance the form of Villa. McLeish is no stranger to N’Zogbia as he had already tried to sign him while at Birmingham City. “I think Charles will give the players a further boost,” McLeish told the club’s official website. “I think Charles will bring the level up. No doubt about it, he’s been a quality performer over the last few years.”
N’Zogbia is an interesting player as he seems to share a perfect mix of both youth and experience. Despite only being 25, N’Zogba has already made over 200 appearances in the Premier League for Newcastle and Wigan. The good form he showed at certain points with Newcastle really took off once he joined Wigan. His two year stint with the Lactics was quite impressive as he led the team in goals in all competitions in his second season. N’Zogbia’s rising status even led to him being called up by Laurent Blanc for a couple of appearances on the senior French national team. Roberto Martinez, Wigan’s manager, was down about seeing one of his best players leave as he stated, ”We’re all disappointed to lose a player like Charles N’Zogbia, who has been fantastic for Wigan Athletic over the last two years and who we feel has grown as a player in that time too.”
Now at Aston Villa, N’Zogbia will more than make up for the loss of Stewart Downing who they sold for double the price of N’Zogbia’s fee. The versatile winger can play from both the left and the right and can also serve as an attacking midfielder or left back. While many have been excited about the prospects of Stewart Downing lining up with Andy Carroll, Aston Villa may have their own deadly combination with N’Zogbia and England international Darren Bent. Bent is looking like he’s entering the prime of his career as the 27 year old is fresh off a noteworthy season where he scored 17 goals in the EPL which included nine for Villa after his January transfer. Now with N’Zogbia helping to create chances for him, Bent could become a Golden Boot winner this season. N’Zogbia is confident of his partnership with the Villa strikers as he proclaimed, “Darren scored a lot of goals last season and I hope I can create even more for him and for myself.” “He is a good striker and there’s also Gabby Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey, who are great players. We want to be exciting and entertaining.”
With N’Zogbia’s skill set, Aston Villa could very well become a lively team to watch even with Alex McLeish in charge. The Scot has received his fair share of criticism for the overly conservative, defensive style of football he incorporates. However, N’Zogbia may just prove that Aston Villa will be very entertaining to watch in the upcoming season. The Frenchman has shown blistering pace whether through creating chances or by taking on defenders himself. He showed at Wigan that he shoots well from long-distance and is a free kick specialist. The partnership that he could form with Darren Bent and the other forwards could be devastating to opponents.
Although many Aston Villa fans have groaned at the sight of Alex McLeish taking over, one can argue that Villa have done well this summer in the transfer market with the acquisitions of Charles N’Zogbia and Shay Given. The Frenchman is extremely positive about his future at Villa Park as he admitted, ”I think it is going to be a really good season and hopefully I’ll do well here. I can’t wait to meet my new team-mates, play with them and work together to do something special this season. Alex McLeish is a strong manager and I think he is going to build a really good team for this season.”