Clement Lenglet rendered expensive mistake at Aston Villa as millions wasted on £412k-per-game luxury reserve
Aston Villa can’t be faulted for being ambitious in the transfer market in recent windows but a lack of action from high-priced back-up Clement Lenglet appears set to waste the club millions this year.
Unai Emery’s defence has been solid this season, with almost half of thee 17 goals conceded in the Premier League coming across two defeats to Newcastle and Liverpool earlier in the campaign.
And much of that is down to the partnership developed in the centre between Ezri Konsa and £33million-signing Pau Torres [Sky Sports, 12 July].
The Spaniard was picked up from Villarreal in the summer to reunite him with Emery and after Tyrone Mings was ruled out long term with an ACL injury the new man stepped in and hasn’t looked back.
That has helped to make the decision to bring in Barcelona’s Lenglet on a deadline day loan deal look like an expensive mistake, as the French international has still yet to play a minute in the Premier League for Villa, after making 26 appearances in the top flight on loan at Tottenham last season.
According to The Sun (16 November) his £150,000-a-week wages make him the most expensive bench-warmer in the league, ahead of Spurs’ Hugo Lloris on £100k-a-week.
The sum of Lenglet’s involvement so far four appearances in the Europa Conference League, where errors at the back contributed to a surprise 3-2 defeat to Legia Warsaw on his debut which Villa News pundit Alan Hutton felt was in part down to his lack of action otherwise.
The centre-back is now 11 weeks into his career at Aston Villa, meaning he has so far earned £1.65m from the club, averaging out to £412,500 for each of his four European outings.
His contract at the Camp Nou is what it is so Lenglet isn’t necessarily to blame as the club knew what they were taking on, even if his statistics from SofaScore in his four appearances don’t scream of a player who is banging the door down for league minutes.
He is averaging 5.8 ball recoveries per game, but has only won 65% of his ground duals, just 57% in the air, and has lost possession seven times, although he hasn’t made any errors directly leading to shots.
But it suggests his signing was unnecessary, particularly when he is getting so little game time even with Mings out for the season with injury.
Diego Carlos is ahead of him currently in the pecking order, meaning that if the England international was around Lenglet would be no better than fifth choice at his position, which would seem to be a role that could adequately be filled by Calum Chambers.
Clearly, every manager would rather be safe than sorry, but for disaster to have already struck with a major injury to a regular starter and still there is a high-priced loanee sitting on the bench week in and week out it makes the decision to sign off on him, in the same window as Torres was made the club’s second-most expensive signing ever, a waste.
If Emery wants help at another position in January then he will have to contend with there being a reasonable chunk of the wage bill already taken up by what looks like a luxury reserve.
Additionally, a 28-year-old full international is sure to want to play more often at this stage of his career so unless he breaks into the team later in the season and proves vital it appears his move to Aston Villa was the wrong one on both sides.
In other Aston Villa news, another underused big name is a potential “friction” risk this season according to a BBC pundit.