By Anthony Onifade

19th Jun, 2023 | 8:10am

Ezri Konsa can finally gain international recognition with Aston Villa European platform

Aston Villa will be aiming to take that next level next season as they embark on an exciting Europa Conference League journey and one key Villa Park favourite finally has the chance to gain some international recognition.

Villa needed to win to finish seventh in the Premier League and earn a spot in the playoffs for the third-tier Europa Conference League and they did so to such impressive aplomb when they triumphed over Brighton 2-1 at Villa Park on the Premier League final day [28 May].

Unai Emery and his side will now be making their first European appearance in 13 years, providing the club with the grandeur stage they’ve been desperate for but also making them an attractive proposition in the transfer market.

Ex-Sevilla and Arsenal boss Emery arrived from Villarreal and has completely transformed the Aston Villa ship, turning the team into a fully-fledged and potential European outfit by guiding them to 15 wins from 25 matches.

There’s certainly been a number of factors contributing to Emery’s success at Villa Park, none more so than his tremendous tactical flexibility and the swift adaptation to his style of play from his key performers.

One player who has consistently performed well since the Spaniard walked through the Aston Villa doors is Ezri Konsa who has consistently shown over the past year or so why he remains one of the country’s most underrated centre-backs.

The 25-year-old is still yet to reach his peak in an Aston Villa shirt and has been massively overlooked by Gareth Southgate in the past, especially in the latest England squad despite the Villan’s tremendous form to close out the 2022/23 season.

While Tyrone Mings has rightfully earned his shot once again, Konsa’s performances at Villa Park have somewhat undeservedly gone under the radar and there’s certainly been a number of his sensational showings under Emery’s stewardship.

Arguably one of his most impressive came against Brentford in April [22 April], winning 100% of his aerial duels, winning 3 out of his four total duels, recording two clearances and successfully completing 47 of his 53 passes at a rate of 89% [SofaScore].

His rock-solid partnership with Mings has been the foundation at which Aston Villa is undergoing this stunning upward trajectory, recording an impressive 11 eleven clean sheets along the way.

In fact, Konsa’s seasonal stats should be coming under the microscope in Southgate’s behind-the-scenes defensive analysis, with the former Brentford man only being dribbled past 0.2 times per game, recording 1.1 tackles per game, 3.0 clearances, winning 72% of his total duels, 60% of his aerial duels and a whopping 80% of his ground duels [SofaScore].

With Villa taking on pastures new next season, Emery may well be inclined to improve his numbers in defence in the transfer market, but the Spaniard can rest assured that both Konsa and Mings can lead the team forward again into a new and more lofty era.

More crucially though, at just 25 years of age, Konsa still has plenty of time on his side to receive that much-desired England phone call, and should he continue his stunning trajectory playing on the highly-coveted European platform next season, then Southgate will have no choice but to make his international dreams come true.

The ball very much remains in Konsa’s court.

In other Aston Villa news, a release clause for Ollie Watkins has been mooted amid contract talks at Villa Park.