By Peter Lynch

8th Nov, 2023 | 7:10pm

Nicolo Zaniolo must be forced out of Aston Villa, Unai Emery has no other choice after 11% cameo

Aston Villa are enjoying another fine campaign under Unai Emery, with the club flying high domestically and in Europe.

The Villa Park outfit currently occupy fifth place in the Premier League and sit joint-top of their Europa Conference League group. But it will be a long season, and Villa have already been finding it difficult to compete successfully on all fronts.

The struggles have culminated in a shock 2-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest in the league on Sunday (5 November) and a disappointing 3-2 loss to Legia Warsaw in Europe in September.

It means that new faces could be needed at Villa Park, which also means that Emery will have to say goodbye to one or two members of his squad in order to free up space and funds.

And one player that really should be making way is Nicolo Zaniolo, who arrived on a season-long loan from Galatasaray in August.

There was plenty of excitement in the Midlands upon his arrival, but the 24-year-old has failed to set Villa Park alight.

From his 13 appearances in all competitions so far, Zaniolo is yet to register a single goal or assist, which is really unacceptable for an attacking player.

The fact that there has been a betting investigation involving the Italian has not helped his time in England, but that may just be another reason for Emery to cut his losses and bid farewell to someone who might not be able to fully concentrate on his football.

Zaniolo started the recent clash with Forest, but was hooked at half-time after attempting just nine passes, winning just one of his nine duels (11%) and losing possession of the ball 12 times [Sofascore].

Moreover, his replacement Leon Bailey attempted 16 passes, won three of his nine duels, made one key pass and had three shots, compared to Zaniolo’s two [Sofascore].

Star winger Moussa Diaby meanwhile made four key passes, completed 90% of his passes and made two tackles, and will not be dropped for Zaniolo or Bailey anytime soon [Sofascore].

In other Aston Villa news, one big-money player is not needed at Villa Park, Emery could cut his losses in the January transfer window.