Position (s): Box-to-box midfielder, winger, defensive midfielder
Former club: FC Groningen
In one word: pacy
On June 13, Aston Villa confirmed the signing of Dutchman Leandro Bacuna from Eredivisie side Groningen on a three-year deal. Bacuna came through the youth ranks at Groningen and spent four seasons with the senior side, making 109 appearances and scoring 14 goals.
The 21-year old is certainly talented. He's a versatile footballer who can play on either flank, sit deep in midfield, or even fill in defensively. Bacuna is both strong and quick and can make use of either foot, although he's more powerful with his right. He's got loads of energy and can keep up the pace throughout the entire 90 minutes. Bacuna does enjoy a nice long ball, and for the most part, his awareness is astute enough that he's actually able to get his shot near the target.
As you can probably guess, it's not exactly certain which position the new Villa man will play -- he played nearly every position with his last side, except goalkeeper, left back and center back. Most stories label Bacuna as a winger, but according to reports of those who watched him regularly in the Dutch league, he's better suited to a central midfield role.
After shuffling from position to position, Bacuna has stated that he now wants to focus on his development at central midfield, where he assumes a box-to-box role -- when was the last time the Villa had a decent box-to-box man? If he's able to flourish under Paul Lambert, this could be a fantastic signing.
But even those who like his raw talent are able to acknowledge Bacuna's flaws. Sometimes he relies too much on his power, and in doing so, loses some of the precision that could make his game better. In the same way, his set-pieces tend toward the powerful more than the precise, although he did become Groningen's go-to penalty man last season, so there must be something to his technique from the spot.
Bacuna's constant switching of positions has hindered his development somewhat, and has perhaps affected his confidence. It's been noted that Bacuna can be rather inconsistent at times. And if the side isn't playing well, rather than stepping forward, he tends to fade into obscurity.
It's important to remember he's still a young player, however. If Villa give him enough time and encouragement, Bacuna may very well develop into a pivotal cog in the side.