With news breaking of Jordan Amavi’s departure to France, Villa’s left back propositions will be confined, at least until January, to solely Neil Taylor. Taylor, who joined last January in a swap deal with Swansea for Jordan Ayew, solidified a place as Villa’s first choice left back towards the end of last season, and maintained that role Saturday against Hull.
While Taylor does not offer the attacking threat that makes Jordan Amavi such a tantalizing prospect, his defensive reliability much surpasses Amavi’s. If Amavi shared Taylor’s defensive soundness, he would likely have fetched a much larger fee from a big club a long time ago. However, his defensive liabilities were damaging and often, a reality that made his inclusion in the team a constant risk. Regardless, Amavi demonstrated a spirit of professionalism throughout his tenure at Villa, even returning to training without complaint after a bizarre debacle in an earlier planned move to Sevilla, so Villa’s decision to allow him to move on is the fair thing to do.
Where this leaves Villa though, is a more puzzling question. On the right side of defense, Villa have a wealth of riches. Alan Hutton started Saturday’s opening match, Ritchie De Laet showed glimpses of promise last season before suffering a serious injury, Leandro Bacuna has played right back competently in the past (but might be off), and even Ahmed Elmohamady, who played as a right winger on Saturday, often plays as a right back. On top of Hutton, De Laet, Bacuna, and Elmohamady, Villa’s most exciting right back prospect is James Bree, who joined from Barnsley last January and is still only 19 years of age. Villa's 5 right back options are mirrored on the right by only Taylor, an extremely bizarre proposition. Both numbers, 5 right backs and 1 left back, are unusual in isolation, but to have both coexist suggests a lack of logic on the part of some decision makers at Villa.
Should Taylor suffer an injury before January, it is clear who would fill in for him - Birkir Bjarnason who has clocked up a career total of 75 minutes in the position or maybe James Bree, who clocked up 15? Next up, Ritchie De Laet is the most likely choice - he has featured at left back before, starting 6 matches in the Championship for Middlesbrough 2 years ago at left back. Perhaps Steve Bruce has his eyes on some home-grown talent, but no left back has yet made any significant inroads on the Villa first team in recent memory besides Amavi and Taylor.
There must, inevitably, be a back up plan. It is the right thing to do let Amavi go, but to make such a move without a suitable plan at left back would be tempting the football gods and a damning indictment of irresponsibility on the part of Villa’s decision makers, notably Steve Bruce.