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Which Players Could Make The Difference For Aston Villa?

With the transfer window slamming shut on 31st August, there is still a great deal of time left for Aston Villa to make some tidy additions to the squad, with the club rumoured to be in the market for a holding midfielder, a more advanced midfielder, another centre half and maybe even a backup striker. Many names are being floated for each position, all of which are names you potentially should've heard of, but with the importance of scouting being higher and higher, we may look to some more obscure markets to fill these gaps in the squad, or tried and tested leagues such as the Championship, where my first potential target is currently plying his trade!

Han-Noah Massengo

Han-Noah Massengo, currently of Bristol City, would be a perfect player to slot into our midfield as an extra body. The versatile 20-year-old has quietly impressed over the past couple of seasons for Bristol City in the Championship, after his £7.2m deal from Monaco in the summer of 2019. The midfielder is known amongst the City Ground faithful for his tenacity and range of passing, with his rangy figure working well in defensive situations where Massengo is able to fish the ball out with great effect. Massengo *can* play holding midfield, but really comes into his own on the left of a midfield three, giving him more creative outlook to spray passes in the middle of the park, which he does so well. Massengo's on the ball prowess and charging runs would be an asset in games where we have most of the ball, and are trying to unlock a defence, as Massengo can play an unlocking pass, and he would be very good to stop counters with his tactical know-how. One player I would compare him to is Brighton's midfield anchor Yves Bissouma, who shares similar defensive qualities to Massengo. The young Frenchman would also be astute in games where we would be playing on the back foot against possessionally dominant, such as a Manchester City or a Chelsea. Massengo is very good at occupying positions to cut off passing lanes when on the edge of his own area, as well as on the ball in these sorts of games where he would be able to release our attack, and we know what they can do when they get the ball! Han-Noah Massengo's contract expiry date is under 2 years away, which will start to reduce his value.

Gonçalo Paciênda

With the club rumoured to be looking at a backup striker, Gonçalo Paciênda may just be the man for the job. The 26-year-old striker spent last season on loan with Schalke 04, and ended up getting relegated, but looking at the Portugal man's numbers from the previous season with parent club Eintracht Frankfurt is much more promising. In comparison to Ollie Watkins, the man who he would deputise for, Paciênda is very similar in a number of key metrics. In terms of Non penalty xG+xA per 90, the former Porto man had 0.63 in 2019/20, trumping Watkins' 0.51 last season. Aswell as this, Paciênda's short passing statistics are very similar to Watkins' percentage wise, and so are his Attacking Third Pressures, with Paciênda having slightly more in that regard. At 184cm (Just over 6ft), the Frankfurt man is a danger in the air like Watkins has been, and isn't shy of a header from a set piece too, but the thing that impressed me in my research on Gonçalo is his eye for goal, which simply cannot be taught. He always seems to be in the right place, whether that be to make a cutting run, receive a ball from midfield to then distribute out wide, or simply score a goal, Paciênda seems to be there. Although Watkins would certainly be seen as the number one option in that position, Paciênda is a more than worthy deputy.

Andreaw Gravillon

Andreaw Gravillon is a Guadeloupean centre half who has a very similar play style to current Villa rock Tyrone Mings, according to the FBREF comparison feature. Gravillon will spend this season out on loan at Reims, although we could still make a move for the player to join next season, after a full season of Ligue 1 football for 'Les Rouges et Blancs'. From what I've seen, Gravillon is a tough tackling defender, but also, like Mings, isn't a stranger to playing out from the back, with his short and medium pass completion percentages both sat north of 86% last season. I don't think Gravillon would be a starter right away at Villa Park, but could easily fight for a spot in the eleven, and would certainly be a welcome addition to the squad, as a backup at least!

Tom Caldwell | Edited by The AVFC Faithful

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