Birkir Bjarnason's thundering header against Minnesota United seemed to herald a return to the first team picture for 'Thor'. The Icelandic midfielder, known for his work-rate and positional flexibility (and his hair, piercing gaze, and jawline) wasn't going to be left out of the squad, not without a fight.
Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be and despite Bjarnason's efforts, Aston Villa have terminated his contract. Bjarnason is now a free agent.
Usually, the release of a player is a negative. It means failure - but I'd not want us to judge Bjarnason's time at Villa as a failure. He succeeded when he was called upon, but was called upon rarely.
That last fact is the catalyst for Birkir's release. He wasn't playing enough football at the Villa. A proud Icelandic footballer, Birkir clearly deemed his lack of football as unacceptable. Who would settle for that?
Many might ask why Birkir didn't fight for a place - but here's the thing - he has been. In 2017/2018 he claimed the defensive midfielder position as his own. Leaving Villa Nd requesting a release isn't running away from a fight. It's just taking it to a new frontline, free agency.
It's not that he wants happy at Villa either. We were lucky enough to speak to Bjarnason in Minnesota and the player seemed more than content with his teammates and the manager. Again, it's just game time.
The transfer window is lucrative, but it can also destroy careers. If Villa decided to play hardball, they'd have limited Bjarnason's chances of a good career move. Bjarnason probably wouldn't raise hell either, he'd just try to fight for a place that he'd probably not get. It's good that Villa haven't fought for a fee. Bjarnason has been a valued team member here and hasn't really put a foot wrong.
Releasing him before the transfer window closes allows Bjarnason to seek a full array of moves to a club of his choice. It doesn't limit him to the only clubs willing to pay a transfer fee.
Simply enough, it allows him to seek the move he deserves.
Go get them Birkir. We'll miss you. Thanks for everything.