Aston Villa have just signed Jonathan Kodjia for £15 million from Bristol City.
However, only hours before the deal was announced, Sky sources have suggested that Roberto di Matteo was actually planning a £20 million raid for Hull City’s Abel Hernandez.
Therefore, the question almost certainly on the lips of Aston Villa fans as they approach deadline day is this: was Kodjia the right choice?
Well despite an abundance of similarities between the two strikers, there are some key differences…
Why Jonathan Kodjia is the best option:
Jonathan Kodjia was part of a Bristol City side that struggled for a large part of last season, and therefore his return of 19 league (20 in all competitions) goals is a more than reasonable return for the man bought for just over £2 million last July. Considering ‘Jimmy’ spoke no English when he joined the Robins (there was a rumour circulating in south Bristol that before his first game at Ashton Gate, Kodjia was driving around aimlessly and had to stop and pick up a fan to direct him to the stadium), and that in a side dogged by relegation fears all season he did not enjoy the same service Hernandez would have at Hull, his debut Championship season is made to seem even more impressive.
Kodjia also possesses a wicked aerial threat at 6ft 2.5 inches, and with his unpredictable dribbling style and way he takes on players, he also arguably scores more aesthetically pleasing goals than Abel Hernandez. The French-born, Ivory Coast international, despite being a similar age (only 10 months or so older than Hernandez), has actually played a lot fewer first team matches than the ex-Palermo man.
Kodjia’s growth has been stunted due to not being picked up by a centre de formation (academy) until he was 19, before that simply playing street football in Saint Denis and Paris (where, to be fair to Kodjia he did earn himself a reputation). This rawness can still be seen today, as Kodjia has only really enjoyed prolonged first team spells at Angers and Bristol City.
However, that may not necessarily be a negative, in fact it could mean that with less progression time than his Hull City rival, Kodjia is still growing and developing as a player, and may get even better – maturing like a fine French wine in the claret and blue of Aston Villa.
The purchase of Kodjia at the rumoured £15 million is not only be cheaper than the reported fee for Hernandez, but also weakens a Championship rival of Aston Villa – Bristol City. Lee Johnson’s men head into the international break after recording a 3-1 win over, you guessed it, Aston Villa, and although Kodjia didn’t feature, weakening a fellow second tier side may well have been a shrewd move by Villa going forward.
Why Abel Hernandez would have been the best option:
Abel Hernandez also scored 20 goals last season and was a key figure in Hull reaching the Premier League after just a one year absence. This is exactly what Villa want to achieve, and having someone in their ranks who has just recently been there, done that and bought the proverbial t-shirt, would have been a good addition to the camp.
In fact, Hernandez has already scored in the Premier League this term, as part of Hull’s unlikely good start to the season – again highlighting his worth as a goal scorer. A good international goal-scoring record of 11 in 27 for Uruguay is made even more impressive when one considers the plethora of attacking talents the country has produced in recent years.
Hernandez is a fairly similar player to Kodjia, but has a few more tricks up his sleeve, most notably his very comfortable two-footed ability, the same of which cannot be said for the Frenchman. As aforementioned, the Uruguayan international also has more big game experience and first team football with time at Palermo as well Penarol and Central Espanol in Uruguay. Hernandez’s goals were a constituent part of the 2013/14 promotion winning Palermo side, and represents his ‘tried and tested’ nature.
In comparison, there is a fear amongst some that Kodjia could be a flash-in-the-pan, a one season wonder, whereas the same is unlikely to be said of Hernandez. Kodjia’s ‘rawness’ led Lee Johnson to claim that, despite being 26, Jimmy is only 18 years old when it comes to tactical mentality. A quick google search reveals that former Hull boss Steve Bruce has not said the same about Abel Hernandez.
One of the best things you can say about Abel Hernandez is his seemingly uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time to score goals. A real fox-in-the-box and poacher, in the ilk of a South American Michael Owen, and while Abel does have other sorts of goals in his locker he does score more than his fair share of tap-ins.
Finally, one huge point in favour of the current Hull City man is that is Uruguayan and not eligible to play for the Ivory Coast. What is meant by this is that he will not be involved in the African Cup of Nations every two years. It is likely that Kodjia will be absent for Aston Villa in January as the AFCON is in Gabon in January 2017.
All in all, Abel Hernandez edges it… just. Aston Villa are getting a very exciting forward who may well get better and be a ‘late bloomer’. However, for a Championship record fee, considering Bristol City paid only £2 million for him last summer, the price may be a shade too high for someone who only has played in one full Championship season and speaks limited English.
That said, if Kodjia combines well with McCormack and Villa make an immediate return to the top flight, then it would be money well spent. Only time will tell…
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