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If Villa keep him, Rudy Gestede still has a key role to play

Rudy Gestede’s introduction Thursday night at Villa Park changed the match — so why should the club feel the need to sell him this window?

Aston Villa v Middlesbrough - Pre-Season Friendly
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Rudy Gestede of Villa in action during the pre- season friendly between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on July 30, 2016 in Birmingham, England.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The January transfer window opens soon, and it appears one bit of business is likely to get done at B6: the departure of Rudy Gestede.

After last night’s 1-1 draw with Leeds United, manager Steve Bruce seemed to indicate the forward is likely out the door this window, with a move to Middlesbrough reportedly on the cards.

“I do believe there's a Premier League club talking to him,” Bruce said in a Birmingham Mail story. “ … I've got six centre forwards so I've probably got to sell one to bring in another defender or midfielder.”

The logic, of course, makes a lot of sense; Aston Villa have a horde of quality attackers and a dearth of quality midfielders, an unbalanced setup that’s part of why the club are sitting outside the top six, not in it, as the calendar turns to 2017. AFCON aside, Jonathan Kodjia isn’t coming out of the team anytime soon, and Albert Adomah, a healthy Jack Grealish, Ross McCormack and Jordan Ayew are all more likely to get a start than Gestede is, all things considered. Villa probably are overloaded in attack, and if selling one or two guys is necessary to bring in the players needed this window, the club probably should let a forward leave.

I’m not convinced, however, that Villa should be ready to part ways with Gestede just yet.

Just look at the Leeds draw last night, where Villa, down 1-0, were struggling to generate much substantive in attack as the match carried on. Kodjia played well, but the visitors were resolute in defence, with something needing to change for Villa to remain unbeaten at home.

So, with around 15 minutes to play, Bruce turned to Gestede and Albert Adomah as his impact subs — an introduction that altered the course of the match. Villa suddenly had another route to a goal, via Gestede’s head, and that route directly led to Villa’s goal, when Leeds handled a ball bound for the target man’s head. Kodjia stepped to the spot, buried the penalty, and after a shockingly exciting final 10 minutes, the sides settled for a 1-1 draw.

One point gained (and two taken away from Leeds) thanks, in big part, to Gestede’s introduction.

And that’s exactly why I’d like to see the big man stick around Villa Park, at least as long as the club are in the Championship. Gestede might be a one-trick pony, but at the one thing he does, he’s the best in the league — and that’s key as a unique option that can change the game. If Villa sell him, there will surely be a couple occasions the rest of the way where tight matches are crying out for something different in attack; perfect opportunities for Gestede.

Now, if the player is keen, it’s admittedly hard to sit here and argue Villa should block Gestede’s move to a Premier League side. But where what’s best for Villa is concerned, perhaps keeping Gestede at B6 is the right move to make. The club are flush with options in attack — but none of them are like Rudy.