By Anthony Onifade

7th Sep, 2023 | 11:10am

Aston Villa: Leander Dendoncker misses out on crucial Premier League opportunity at Everton after September news

Aston Villa midfielder Leander Dendoncker knocked back a crucial Premier League first-team opportunity this season after Everton made an approach on transfer deadline day.

French outlet Le Parisien (1 September) reported that the Toffees tried to sign the Belgian midfielder on the final day of the transfer window but he never arrived to complete the move.

The French outlet also reported on their website that because the move had failed it meant Andre Gomes was then unable to leave for Lille.

The 28-year-old only made the switch to Villa Park from Wolverhampton Wanderers for a reported £15m last September.

However, after just 21 appearances since, the Belgian now looks to become a bit-part figure in the West Midlands, especially after the signing of Youri Tielemans, also with Unai Emery favouring the likes of Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz in his midfield pivot.

Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano reported on 4 July, that the Villans were willing to listen to offers for Dendoncker, despite being rated by manager Unai Emery.

Also, French media outlet Foot Mercato reported on 6 July that Dendoncker was attracting interest from Premier League clubs and Serie A, while French Ligue 1 outfits Stade Rennais, OGC Nice and Lyon had also taken information on the player but no such moves materialised.

He’s been unavailable for Villa’s first six games of the new season but returned to the matchday squad in their 3-0 win over Hibernian in the Europa Conference League qualifying second-leg tie (31 August) but failed to make an appearance.

Dendoncker only featured in one of Villa’s final four games of last season, as he came off the bench in the last three minutes of the 1-1 draw at Anfield. He started six of the 25 league games which Emery took charge of, and impressed in home wins over Manchester United, Newcastle United and Fulham.

It remains to be seen when the Belgian could feature again at Villa Park but he seemed to make a very critical decision on his first-team chances, knocking back Everton’s approach at a last-gasp transfer move.

The Belgian international certainly pulled up some impressive defensive contributions last season, finishing the 2022/23 season in the 97th percentile for interceptions made by Premier League midfielders last season (1.88 per 90) as well as the top 10% of his counterparts for blocks (2.07 per 90) and passes blocked (1.68 per 90), such defensive numbers certainly made him a highly-rated commodity in Everton’s thinking. [FBREF]

At 28 years old, the former Wolves has to be playing regularly as he enters the prime years of his career and unfortunately, that may not be possible with the number of quality Emery now possess at his disposal in the deep-lying midfield role.

A move to Goodison Park presented him with the perfect conditions to thrive with Sean Dyche favouring a more rigid and conservative style on Merseyside and the Belgian may have provided a healthy challenge to the declining Idrissa Gueye, but that chance has now been missed.

For a less possession-heavy side, Dendoncker could have absolutely fit well in, becoming one of the best defensive midfielders at what he does, but it’s clear Aston Villa are heading in a new progressive and controlling system under Emery’s management which leaves no room for the Belgian to contribute to.

Between now and the January transfer window, it doesn’t look like the Belgian will be given much thought in the Aston Villa starting eleven, even with the added Europa Conference League demands.

A deadline-day move will have provided Dendoncker with the perfect Premier League escape but with the window now closed for another four months, the Belgian’s nightmare period at Villa Park continues.

He very well should have grabbed the Everton opportunity.

In other Aston Villa newsPhilippe Coutinho has chosen his preferred destination this summer