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Would Abel Hernandez have been a better option for Aston Villa than Jonathan Kodjia?

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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…

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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.

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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…

Featured image: All rights reserved by mittu12

History graduate and sports writer. https://harryelliott24.wordpress.com/

Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s play-off final is vital regarding the future of Jack Grealish

The 22-year-old has matured significantly under Steve Bruce this season.

Josh Kerr

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Aston Villa’s day of destiny awaits, and the future of Jack Grealish could also hang on this crucial Wembley fixture.

The 22-year-old has been in wonderful form for The Villans this season, and he showcased his talent in the play-off semi-final over two legs.

Villa edged past Middlesbrough 1-0, with Grealish playing a starring role over and club’s supporters will be desperate to keep their star man.

However, the future of the Solihull born youngster could hinge on whether Steve Bruce’s side gain promotion to the Premier League with a number of clubs set to swoop if Villa don’t reach the top-flight.

According to the Birmingham Mail, Grealish was recently offered a big money move to Leicester but opted to instead stay at Villa Park.

However, if Aston Villa were to fall at the final hurdle at Wembley then it may be difficult for Grealish to focus on another year in the Championship especially if the Premier League comes knocking once again.

The attacking midfielder has blossomed under Bruce this season and has been central to the club’s promotion hopes.

He has really matured over the year and his performances on the pitch have continued to impress those who once doubted whether he would fulfill his potential.

According to reports from the Mirror, Villa will need to cut costs if they fail in the play-offs and Grealish would be one of the club’s more saleable assets.

Grealish would be a huge loss to Villa, but the Midlands side will be full of confidence going into one of football’s richest fixtures.

They will know full well that a win could be the factor that ensures the club are able to withstand elusive offers for some of their top players.

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Aston Villa’s James Chester comes back to haunt former manager Tony Pulis

The Welsh defender came back to bit his old boss in the play-off semi clash.

Max Cohen

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James Chester
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Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough side were expertly stifled by Aston Villa in their play-off semifinal, as the Villans held Boro to 180 minutes of scoreless football.

Villa centre-half James Chester was a constant rock at the back, revealing to Pulis that his former boss was wrong to sell him when the two were together at West Bromwich Albion.

Chester signed for the Baggies from Hull City in the summer of 2015, after five impressive seasons for the Tigers. The fee was reported to be in the region of £8 million and many expected the Welsh international to excel in the back four under Pulis.

Yet, frustratingly for the centre-back, Chester made only 13 league appearances for the Baggies in the 2015/16 campaign. The Welshman started just nine Premier League matches all season, as Pulis clearly did not consider him as first-choice at the Hawthorns.

After just one year at West Brom, Chester was sold to Championship side Aston Villa in 2016.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

In the following two seasons at Villa Park, the centre-back has enjoyed tremendous success, making over 75 appearances and establishing himself as an indispensable presence at the back.

This season, Chester has struck up a formidable partnership with former Chelsea captain John Terry.

The airtight defensive combination was on full display during the two matches against Middlesbrough, as Chester and Terry stifled the high-octane Boro attack.

Featuring the likes of Britt Assambalonga, Adama Traore, Stewart Downing, Patrick Bamford, and Rudy Gestede, the Teesiders’ star-studded frontline was held scoreless due to Villa’s superb defense- led by James Chester.

As Tony Pulis watched his side run out of ideas and fall to a 1-0 aggregate defeat, he will surely be ruing his 2016 mistake.

Allowing James Chester to be sold to Aston Villa truly came back to haunt the Boro boss, as the Welsh international delivered Pulis a dramatic reminder of his abilities and cost the Teesiders a spot at Wembley.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa should at least take a look at Carles Gil this summer

The Spaniard spent the season out on loan from Aston Villa at Deportivo La Coruna.

Mathew Coull

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It looks as though Carles Gil will be leaving Aston Villa this summer. The Birmingham Mail reported this week that the Spaniard has no future at Villa Park, with the club looking to offload him in the summer.

An apparent obligation on the part of his current loan club Deportivo La Coruna to bring him in permanently has now been denied in the Spanish press. Marca now claims the permanent deal is void, after Depor’s relegation from La Liga.

It comes after a difficult season for Gil, in which he suffered a hernia problem and was eventually frozen out by new manager Clarence Seedorf.

But ask any Aston Villa fan and they will tell you that Gil is immensely talented. In fact, many would like to see him get another chance in England.

So should he?

Aston Villa paid Valencia a fee of around £3.2 million for the player, according to BBC Sport. It came after two excellent seasons out on loan at fellow Spanish club Elche.

Therefore, retrieving such a fee for the player would surely not be a difficult task for the club. But he clearly still has something to offer, especially if Villa remain in the Championship.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Gil was one of only a few players to come away from Aston Villa’s relegation campaign with any semblance of dignity and in his first half season at the club looked a real talent.

At just 25-years-old there is also still plenty of scope for him to improve. If Villa stay down again this season then major investment in recruitment is bound to diminish. So having a player with the talent of Gil still around at the club could be like a new signing for Villa.

It certainly seems as though Tony Xia and Steve Bruce want to banish any memory of that awful Aston Villa side that was relegated to the Championship. However, Gil might be one of the very few from that squad with redeemable qualities.

At the very least, it is worth keeping him through pre-season and seeing what he can do. If Bruce does not like what he sees, he can give Gil the boot before the transfer window shuts.

But if he does? Well, Gil could easily resurrect himself a decent career at Villa Park.

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