BBC Radio WM tear into Nicolo Zaniolo for 'worst performance' as Aston Villa lose v Nottingham Forest
Nicolo Zaniolo “produced his worst performance” for weeks as Aston Villa lost 2-0 away at Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Sunday.
The 24-year-old was substituted off at half time for the second Premier League match in a row in favour of Leon Bailey after the Italian suffered a first-half stinker at the City Ground.
Although he had two shots at goal from inside the penalty area, the on-loan Galatasaray attacker generated a pitiful xG of just 0.14, with one of his efforts missing the target completely even though he was pretty much on the penalty spot when he took it [Sofascore].
Zaniolo, who was dubbed as “ineffectual” by BBC Radio WM commentator Richard Wilford on Sunday (5 November, 3:14pm), also had just 22 touches of the ball in the first half and only completed seven passes to his teammates.
He completed just one of the two dribbles he tried and lost possession a staggering 11 times, meaning for every two times he touched the ball, he also lost it once.
Villa went in at the break 1-0 down after an early goal by Ola Aina.
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The West Midlands side didn’t threaten much at all after that and, if anything, Forest were favourites to add a second before the away team got on the scoresheet.
Unai Emery clearly had enough of Zaniolo and subbed him off at the break, with Wilford and ex-Villa striker Garry Thompson seemingly praising the decision after the Italian failed to impress in the opening 45 minutes.
Speaking on BBC Radio WM on Sunday (5 November, 3:04pm), commentator Wilford said: “[Zaniolo has] probably produced his worst performance for some weeks.”
Thompson replied: “He’s still had two or three opportunities to score goals and he seems to be more and more frustrated. He seems to be getting more frustrated with the physicality of the game as well.
“He’s a talented player but he just needs a goal and all of a sudden, everything will fall into place.”
Bailey replaced Zaniolo last week when Aston Villa won 3-1 against Luton.
Villa were 1-0 up when that decision was made but Bailey came off the bench and within four minutes assisted a goal fro Moussa Diaby.
The ex-Bayer Leverkusen man didn’t have quite the same impact at Forest because within minutes of him coming on this time, the Reds were doubling their lead.
Zaniolo’s on borrowed time in the Aston Villa starting line-up because as proven in the last two weeks, Emery is willing to hook him off at the earliest possible opportunity if deemed necessary.
The decision against Luton was justified by Bailey and this time, the decision was justified by just how bad the Italy international was himself.
It might even be that his time at Villa Park is under threat if he doesn’t improve his performances too.
Italian journalist Alfredo Pedulla reported on 13 August, ahead of Zaniolo’s loan move to Villa from Galatasaray, that the attacking midfielder would continue earning a salary of around €3million (£2.6m) while in the West Midlands.
That works out at a staggering £216,000-a-week, which Villa should not be spending for a player who cannot be trusted by the manager to play over 45 minutes of football without being subbed off.