Position: left back
Club(s): Sevilla, but on loan to Mallorca for part of 2012-2013
In one word: Bargain
Finding a solid, quality left back to slot in to the regular starting XI has been a real problem for Aston Villa over the last few seasons. Stephen Warnock's faint glimmer of World Cup-esqe talent flickered and died. Eric Lichaj never achieved consistent, premier-league quality. Enda Stevens seems to have vanished into thin air. And although Joe Bennett improved at the end of the past season, there's still a touch of uncertainty about his game.
Paul Lambert's solution? Snag a cheap defender from La Liga and use him either as a squad player or as a means of giving Bennett a kick in the pants (although it could be both, really). That player is Antonio Luna, a 22 year old left back who came up through the youth ranks at Sevilla. Although he made his first senior appearance with the club in May 2010, he was loaned to Almería the following year.
Last season, after struggling to break in to the first team at Sevilla, Luna went on loan to sinking Mallorca. Whether this is indicative of his talent, however, is hard to say -- remember, this same team elected to bring in Alan Hutton to help at right back. Luna did manage to rack up 11 starts while on loan, but it did nothing to save Mallorca from relegation. He did manage to earn his starts over both young Spaniard Kevin and the experienced Antonio López.
Luna has also played a few games for the youth levels of the Spanish national side. Unsurprisingly, however, for a player valued at around 2 million, he's not broken into the senior squad of the side that won both the last World Cup and Euros. What's he going to do, replace Jordi Alba? Let's remember, Paul's looking for bargains here, not to break the bank. Especially not for a left back.
Unfortunately, there's not a lot of information available on how Luna actually plays, or what qualities he can bring to a side. Unless someone has watched every match he played for Mallorca last season, we Villa supporters will likely have to remain a bit in the dark on his specific talents. But with Lambert coming right out and saying that Bennett will benefit from the pressure of bringing in another left back, it seems it might not be Luna's play that's particularly important, but rather his effect on Lambert's first choice for the position.