Birkir Bjarnason is one of a few players Villa signed this time last year who hasn’t really enjoyed the best spell in Birmingham since moving to the club.
While players like Conor Hourihane and Scott Hogan have had their difficulties, they’ve also been able to kick on just a little, with Hourihane winning the plaudits there. However, it’s Birkir, James Bree and Henri Lansbury who have spent a lot more time off of the pitch, than on it for the Villans.
Bjarnason has a reason for our focus today. His agent spoke to the Italian press the other day to seek a move for his player in the future. He mentioned that Birkir is currently enjoying his time at Villa (and is committed to the club’s promotion battle), but wouldn’t rule out a move back to Italy, where the player has found success easy to come by in the past. Tutto Mercato have also mentioned that Serie A strugglers, Società Polisportiva Ars et Labor or SPAL, have actually talked to Aston Villa about the player. We’ll wait and see on that one.
Bjarnason is a strange case at Aston Villa. He’s a great personality and a hard worker, but Villa will often play him out of the game with their tempo and style of play (which is very similar an issue they have with Scott Hogan). For sure, Bjarnason played extremely well across the pitch for Villa against Bristol City the other day, and we’d like to see that continue - but with places in Steve Bruce’s first eleven coming at a premium, it’s unlikely that Bjarnason will start a league game for Villa again, unless there are injuries. That’s no fault of his own, but by default, Villa play more to the talents of Andre Green than Bjarnason, so it’s only natural that the former will get a look in over the latter.
Another thing - Bjarnason represents a huge hole in Villa’s transfer logic. They didn’t need to buy the player at all. If they are looking to sell, why buy him in the first place at cost? Villa’s transfer plans leave a lot to be desired.
As for SPAL, Birkir would be a good signing for them and would likely become the focus of their team as they look to stay in Serie A. He can’t exactly get that at a team full of stars, can he? While he’s not a bad player, Villa should accept any bid that represents a profit on the player. That’s no reflection on him at all, but he’s just another body in an inflated Villa side right now. Villa would lose someone who makes intelligent runs, but that’s not a quality they are lacking, unfortunately for Bjarnason.
A final thought - it’s likely that Bjarnason would be replaced by Nick Powell of Wigan if he were to leave (that’s dependent on Wigan’s impending takeover though), but they are extremely similar players - with the difference being that Powell is a more central player. Villa don’t need to make this move at all, especially if they are doing it to bring in Powell.