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Ludwig Augustinsson by the numbers: Underwhelming or smart stopgap signing?

Aston Villa’s latest signing might initially seem to be a step down from the likes of Aaron Hickey. However, his arrival carves a path for Villa to develop one of their own, Ben Chrisene.

Sweden v Serbia: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 4 Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

After spending weeks before and during the transfer window being linked to some of Europe’s top developing left back talent to back up Lucas Digne, it may seem somewhat underwhelming that Aston Villa’s final target for this role is a loan move for 2nd string Sevilla fullback Ludwig Augustinsson. However, this year long loan provides solid cover while maintaining a pathway for Villa to develop their own top talent in the form of Ben Chrisene.

Naturally many fans were excited when Villa were linked with names like Anderlecht’s Sergio Gomez and Bologna’s Aaron Hickey, or even Ranger’s left sided defensive utility man Calvin Bassey. Digne’s presence as a clear first choice may have made it more difficult to attract the type of talent Villa were looking for, as often starting minutes can be more valuable to young players than the pull of the Premier League. Enter 28-year-old Ludwig Augustinsson, who completed his move to the Villans on Monday. The former FC Copenhagen player has previously worked with sporting director Johan Lange in Denmark, and while the Swedish international is not the exciting up and coming talent Steven Gerrard’s side were linked with earlier in the window, he nonetheless provides a solid statistical profile.

Radar Plot expressing Ludwig Augustinsson’s volume of several key metrics for fullbacks. Measured against Matty Cash and Lucas Digne.
Graphic by Daniel Pritchard for 7500 to Holte.

The radar plot compares Augustinsson to Villa current starting fullbacks Digne and Matty Cash. The newcomer falls somewhere between their two styles in these key fullback metrics, showing he’s a classic overlapping left back. Where Augustinsson does differ is where he goes about his defensive work. The Swede assisted the press in the opposition’s third very well at Sevilla, racking up 0.36 tackles and 2.80 pressures per 90 in that area (79th and 71st percentile). He is also remarkably successful in those pressures, with his side winning back possession within 5 seconds of his pressures 36% of the time; he curves his runs when closing down an opposing player so as to cut off their passing options. Further up the field Augustinsson is a capable set piece taker earning his side a goal from them every 11 matches on average. Although he does not progress the ball often, much like Cash he brings other qualities to unlock a defence, being a good possession passer under 30 yards, as well as completing 2.53 switches of play per 90 (90th percentile). While Augustinsson brings a solid level of attacking and defensive work he is not one of the exciting wonderkids Villa were linked to earlier in the window, but his short loan may provide a path for one.

Walsall v Aston Villa - Pre-Season Friendly
Youth product Chrisene has a bright future but will likely look for minutes out on loan this year.
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

After his interview with VillaTV and appearance against Walsall this week, Ben Chrisene is a name once again on the minds of fans. The left back, signed from Exeter City, at 16 has impressed throughout youth levels and even showed his attacking prowess in last year’s FA Youth Cup final, scoring Villa’s opener from the right wing. The England youth international’s primary position though is at left back. He speaks in his interview about taking the shirt from Lucas Digne, and his desire for more minutes. With the added competition of Augustinsson next season it is likely those minutes occur out on loan, where he will look to replicate Kaine Kesler Hayden’s success, and follow his path onto Villa bench and cup side next year. It is for this reason that Villa have seemly forgone a developing fullback for the role, as a youth signing would be more direct competition to Chrisene than Augustinsson, who nonetheless provides a well rounded back up option.