Aston Villa have looked slightly short in defence recently. Plenty of players have had to play out of position to cover injuries, suspension, and poor form. Steve Bruce, who has now been sacked as Aston Villa manager, has to take a large portion of the blame. Especially as he let one player go that could have been extremely useful to the club.
Ritchie De Laet was allowed to leave the club in September. The Belgian headed to Australia, joining Melbourne City on loan after being told he was not needed at Villa Park.
Considering his main position, right-back, it made sense. Aston Villa have Alan Hutton, Axel Tuanzebe, James Bree and Ahmed Elmohomady who are all capable in that position. De Laet had also struggled for his best form following a £2.5 million move from Leicester City, not helped by a serious injury problem in just his third game for the club.
But De Laet’s versatility would have been a huge boost for Aston Villa right now. The 29-year-old, who won a Premier League winners medal with Leicester City, can play in a number of positions.
Not only is he happy at right-back, but left-back comes equally as easy to him. He can operate at centre-back, a position he played regularly when in the Manchester United youth system. He has even operated on either wing during a recent loan spell at Royal Antwerp.
It is not as if De Laet was not in form either. He was one of the club’s standout players in the summer but Bruce had simply decided there was no future for him in his Aston Villa side. Financial fair play considerations also came into consideration, considering his wages.
But with his form in pre-season, Aston Villa simply discarded a potentially different animal in De Laet this season. Now, with the defence shorn, Villa will no doubt wish they had a player with the dexterity of De Laet in their ranks.