Words by Jake Evans (@jakeevans_11)
In an era where Kyle Walker has become the world’s most expensive defender after being sold to Manchester City from Tottenham for £50,000,000, it is very important for many smaller clubs to keep pace with the biggest teams and sign big players for big money. This is exactly what Turkish side Yeni Malatyaspor have just done – smashing their transfer record to complete the £1.8 million signing of Aly Cissokho from Aston Villa. Cissokho, to put it mildly, had a turbulent three years at the Championship side after joining from Valencia in 2014 for an undisclosed fee – spending time out on loan on two separate occasions – and losing his place to the battle-hardened Kieran Richardson, fellow Frenchman Jordan Amavi, and finally to Seamus Coleman’s favourite left back- Neil Taylor.
Unveiled to a rapturous applause at Villa Park in the final pre-season friendly against Parma three years ago, Cissokho started well, playing in the 1-0 successes against Stoke City and league runners up Liverpool. However, a calamitous own goal against Arsenal and a groin injury just days into new boss Tim Sherwood’s tenure meant that the Frenchman would finish the campaign with just 27 appearances.
After recovering from his injury, Cissokho was dismayed to find Villa bidding for fellow Frenchman Jordan Amavi. Now third in the pecking order, Cissokho couldn’t see any future at Villa- a view that Manager Tim Sherwood concurred with; loaning him out to Porto. However, Sherwood was sacked, and after making just two appearances in Portugal the former Liverpool loanee returned to Bodymoor Heath to play under his former Lyon boss Remi Garde. He had very little influence, however, and Villa were relegated from the Premier League for the first time in their history.
When Roberto Di Matteo took over at Villa, Cissokho was very much the first choice left-back, with Amavi still battling for fitness and Richardson sent off to Cardiff City. He even bagged an assist in the first home game against Rotherham, sending in a beautiful chipped cross for Rudy Gestede to open the scoring. Despite impressing under the Italian manager, Cissokho’s sixth Villa manager Steve Bruce preferred the attacking prowess of Jordan Amavi to the French veteran- and the deadline day signing of Neil Taylor from Swansea in exchange for Villa striker Jordan Ayew practically confirmed the end of Cissokho’s Villa career. Despite being loaned to Olympiacos, he scored just one goal and made a measly three appearances in Greece, and eventually returned to Villa where he played no part in pre-season.
The move will no-doubt come as a relief to Cissokho, who has been in and out of the first team and has formed just one consistent relationship- his poor affinity with the fans. The man who once failed a medical for his poor dental care heads to Turkey nearing his 30th birthday, but with a point to prove. Once the most sought-after full back in the world… who knows what is around the corner for Aly Cissokho.