Post Didier Agathe, Aston Villa’s recent history at the wing position has been a storied one if nothing else. From the sublime (see Messrs Young, Downing & Snodgrass) to the ridiculous (I’m looking at you N’Zogbia) and everything in between (Adomah, Albrighton, Adama), the Holte End has seen it all. However, perhaps since the halcyon days of Martin O’Neill, Habib Beye on £50k a week and consecutive 6th place collapses, we have yet to see consistency at the position.
In Anwar El Ghazi and Jota it is hoped that the club have found its wings once more as it attempts to reignite its claim for a seat at the top of the English football pyramid.
El Ghazi is a powerful if somewhat capricious player, as delicious as he is at times frustrating, but nonetheless always interesting. Jota offers balance, the ying to El Ghazi’s yang, the trigger to his bullet. Technical perfection in a diminutive Spanish frame. Akin to watching somebody play FIFA on easy mode he simplifies the game to devastating effect, although his lack of notable pace will be of concern to some as will his infamous one-footedness.
There will also be times, particularly when on the back foot and craving an out ball, when Smith will want to go more direct, in which case two more traditional wingers may be the more effective option. On top of that we require numbers. Andre Green is too, well, green to be relied upon and the thought of farming Jonathan Kodjia out on the wing for any period of time at a higher level is enough to give me indigestion.
So where do Aston Villa turn to for this added dimension?
Step into the fray one Mr Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan. All 24 years, 78 kilos and 181cm of him.
Hailing from owner Nassif Sawiris’ backyard as you all know by now the Kafr El-Shaikh born Egyptian has been nicknamed ‘Trezeguet’. One would assume not because of any physical likeness to the former French international, but potentially due to his searing pace and a keen eye for goal.
Aside from the aforementioned blistering pace, a skill which always plays up at Premier league level, what can Villa fans expect from the Egyptian with 1.8m twitter followers? Take a look for yourself:
Along with his rapid pace, he has an innate ability to wriggle his way out of trouble with an effortless trick or a quick drop of the shoulder. One added touch later and boom he’s away, careering towards goal like a popped cork. On first viewing he is, much like El Ghazi, a vertical, direct player. Every time he picks up the ball he is a missile, thinking nothing but ‘goal’ and anyone standing in his way is a mere pawn in this game of total thermonuclear war.
Those familiar with Aleksander ‘Atomic Strike’ Tonev may well be a little gun shy when it comes to the mind warping effects of the YouTube highlights package. So, do the numbers back up the eye test here? Let’s find out…
THREAD: You asked for it, a run down on our winger options; what we’ve lost, what we’ve got and what we’ll be getting.— Villa Analytics (@VillaAnalytics) July 22, 2019
A look into what Adomah, El Ghazi, Green and Kodjia have done, what Jota can do, and what signing Trezeguet would mean.
Here are the radars.#AVFC #UTV pic.twitter.com/11IjVOQ6Gh
The thing that immediately jumps out to me is the sheer volume of everything on his (purple) radar. Look at it, it’s the definition of gluttonous. Dribbles, through balls, passes into box, crosses, shots p90, Hassan is a jack of all trades and master of many. A one-man wrecking ball. Fearless and imperious. I have never wanted to marry a man based on a radar chart alone, but should he carry this into the Premier League then H Samuel’s Jewellers may be getting the call!
One minor knock may be his finishing. He underpeformed his xG (14.61) by bagging only 9 goals in Super Lig. However, with 22 goals and 15 assists over the last two seasons, that is a goal or assist per 154 minutes, it is hard to argue he is not productive.
Whatever accusations people may throw regarding the level of competition he has faced thus far (*cough*Jack Grealish*cough*) he has undoubtedly shone above almost all comers. Whoscored has him the 5th highest rated player in Super Lig last season (7.44), 2nd highest in season 17/18 (7.53) and the 5th highest rated player at the recent African Cup of Nations (7.56) with 14 MotM performances in 69 games.
Talking of the Africa Cup of Nations…
Mahmoud Trézéguet doesn’t just set people up, he’s a bloody good finisher too. This was his strike which led Egypt to a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe last Friday.— HLTCO (@HLTCO) June 27, 2019
Whether Hassan adapts to life at Villa, to the Premier League and its boundless riches remains to be seen. But what we have hopefully demonstrated here is that the boys from Aston have added another dynamic string to their bow at the same upfront cost they paid for N’Zogbia some 8 years ago.
Welcome to Aston Villa, the man they call Trezeguet. Please be more Ashley Young than Aleksander Tonev. And whatever you do, stay away from men selling dodgy suits.
Up The Villa.