As a fan of both the US Men’s National Team and Aston Villa, I thought it would be fun to identify some players that could legitimately help Aston Villa next season. With defense being one of Villa’s biggest issues going in to next season, here’s some players that could help Villa’s back line.
Cameron Carter-Vickers (centre-back, Tottenham Hotspur)
- 20 years old. Born to an English mother and American father, he was born and raised in England.
- 35 starts, 1g, 2a, 72.9% pass success percentage, average 6.85 WhoScored rating
- Strengths: Athletic defender, ariel threat, solid at the back
- Weaknesses: Needs to improve concentration & distribution
- Style of play: Physically imposing, commanding centre-half
Tottenham hold this young centre back in high regard, having joined their academy at age 10 and routinely played for age groups 2-3 years older than himself. The US Soccer program learned of him when he visited the US with Tottenham when he was 16, and subsequently went all in on getting him to play for the US and started him with the U18s. At 17, he went to the U20 World Cup then moved on to the US U23/Olympic team.
During the 2016/2017 season, he started in the Spurs’ 2-0 win over Villa in the FA Cup 3rd round match up. After realising the was a log jam at CB for minutes, Spurs loaned him to Sheffield Wednesday and then Ipswich where he performed pretty solid for a player earning consistent minutes for the first time at the real senior team level. Could he part of any deal for Jack Grealish?
The thing that stands out to me the most is that Carter-Vickers is a prototypical centre-back. He’s still has a lot to learn and I’m not sure there’s many senior minutes at Spurs for him next year (even though he signed a contract extension at returning from loan). However, with a season of Championship football experience, he would be an ideal player to bring on loan.
Matt Miazga (centre-back, Chelsea)
- 22 years old. Born in US to Polish parents and actually attended a camp with Poland as a youth.
- 39 starts, 3 sub; 4g, 83.8% pass success percentage, average 6.95 WhoScored rating
- Strengths: Strong in the air, much improved passer due to experience in Dutch league
- Weaknesses: Challenging for the ball
- Style of play: Ball playing defender, set piece threat, physically imposing
The Polish-American Miazga is a product of the New York Red Bull academy and signed his first professional contract shortly before he turned 18. By the 2015 season, he cemented his place as a starting centre-back which led to Chelsea buying him in the 2016 January window for £3.5m. His first appearance for Chelsea was actually against Villa in a 4-0 victory on April 2, 2016 but he didn’t get much playing time afterwards. That summer, he made a loan to Dutch club Vitesse where he was able to win a starting spot eventually. His success with Vitesse led to him remaining with the club for the 2017/2018 season where he started most of their matches including games in their Europa League campaign.
You’re sleeping on Matt Miazga’s line-splitting passes. You just are. pic.twitter.com/krnaiKkLI2— Joseph Lowery (@joeInCleats) June 10, 2018
Matt is a special player. When he first arrived in Europe, he was known more for his physical attributes. However, having spent the past two seasons in Holland, Matt has worked hard of his ball control & passing skills and he has made great strides. While I’m not sure it’s good enough for Chelsea to keep him around for 2018/2019, he’d be a great pick up for Villa if Chelsea decide he needs more experience with English football. He’s part of the loan army, anyway. He’s going somewhere.
Antonee Robinson (left-back, Everton)
- 20 years old. Born to an English mother and English-American father, he was born and raised in England. His father played football/soccer in the US for Duke University and spent some of his youth in America as well.
- 30 starts, 4 sub; 4a, 59.2% pass success percentage, average 6.78 WhoScored rating
- Strengths: Can cross and dribble well
- Weaknesses: Don’t expect him to hold onto the ball
- Style of play: An attacking full-back
Antonee joined Everton at 11 as an academy player and won the U18 player of the year for the 2014 - 2015 season. He struggled with several injuries in his youth but that did not discourage Everton from signing him to a professional contract and giving him a contract extension at the end of the 2016-2017 season after a strong performance with the Everton U23s.
To give him the opportunity for get first team minutes, Antonee was loaned to Bolton this past season and helped the team remain in the Championship after a long and hard relegation battle for the club.
If you thought Weston McKennie was the only standout from last night's game, Antonee Robinson would like a word with you. pic.twitter.com/MUjCHZk7Oy— Joseph Lowery (@joeInCleats) May 30, 2018
Antonee has amazing speed and is not afraid to go down the flank and whip in a cross. He relies a lot on his speed to generate offence while not being a liability on defence. There’s a good chance Everton decides he’s impressed enough to challenge Leighton Baines for the left back spot on the first team and due to Leighton’s age (he’ll turn 34 during the season), it wouldn’t surprise to see if Robinson gets the chance to prove he can be the first choice of the future. If available on loan again, he would be a great addition to challenge Taylor.
Out of these few players, I think the best options to go after would be Matt Miazga and Antonee Robinson. I think Matt offers a bit more than Cameron Carter-Vickers at centre-back while Villa desperately need a starting left back unless Taylor can reclaim his form. However, Cameron Carter-Vickers’ experience in the Championship would be welcomed.