By Daniel Feliciano

31st Mar, 2023 | 6:10pm

Diego Carlos imminent return to fitness could lead to Aston Villa system change

So far this season Aston Villa have been defensively strong, especially since Unai Emery took over, but they could be about to get even stronger.

Steven Gerrard made a statement in the summer transfer window last year by splashing £30m on Brazilian central defender Diego Carlos, and he went straight into the starting lineup.

It led to the big drama of Tyrone Mings’ captaincy situation and saw him left out of the side, before Carlos suffered a horrible achilles injury in just his second appearance for the club.

However, the 30-year-old is now set to finally make his long-awaited return to the pitch at some point this month and that will open up a big can of worms for the boss.

Ezri Konsa has established himself as a starting central defender for any Premier League club with the level of quality he has shown in recent years, while Mings has battled his way back to show his quality too.

But there is no way that Carlos can be left on the side considering the qualities he has. Emery must find a way to get them all involved, and using a back three could be the perfect way to do that.

Leander Dendoncker also offers an excellent option as back-up to play in a back three while Chambers also exists at Aston Villa, but the three who would be regular starters would all complement each other well.

Looking at the stats of the three, while using Carlos’ final season at Sevilla to be fair (via WhoScored) there is great balance.

Konsa and Carlos both average at least one tackle per game, while Mings is less aggressive in that sense and averages just 0.4 per game.

But when it comes to interceptions it’s Mings that leads the way, with 1.5 per game compared to 0.7 per game for both Carlos and Konsa. All three players are barely dribbled past over 90 minutes and average over 3 clearances per game.

But on the ball, the balance is even more obvious because of how good Carlos has been in that metric.

He averages more passes per game, has the best success rate (tied with Konsa), best long-ball success per game and the best through ball rate too.

Compared to Mings, who is nowhere near as efficient on the ball but is strong defensively, it gives the team a great base to build from but also to rely on when the going gets tough.

It would allow the midfield to stay strong with John McGinn, Boubacar Kamara, Douglas Luiz and Jacob Ramsey competing for three spots, while Ollie Watkins is the only senior striker which would allow for Leon Bailey to compete centrally and focus more on goals.

It could be that Emery holds firm on choosing two of the three before the summer and then builds the squad out with a back three in mind, but it is certainly an option he should consider to get them all on the pitch together.

In other Aston Villa news, one player has no future at the club and should be shipped out ASAP.