Orjan Nyland hasn’t had the easiest of starts to his Villa career, but Dean Smith has certainly been smart with his first transfer as manager.
Words by Regan Foy (@FindFoy)

Rewind back to the summer transfer window when Aston Villa had signed Orjan Nyland. Hopes were high for the replacement to Villa’s most successful goalkeeper of recent years in Sam Johnstone. According to Steve Bruce, he’d been on his radar for some time – during his Hull days in fact.

Now, as we’re approaching the January transfer window, Aston Villa seem to be less than impressed with the Norwegian international, other than the occasional impressive save, or game saver – like his penalty save against Swansea on Boxing Day.

He has improved under Dean Smith’s regime and has kept a number of clean cheats, but still struggles with claiming balls at times and has made a few individual errors that have cost the side goals.

But, a goalkeeper is truly only as good as the defence in front of him, and with a make-shift defence for much of the season – Orjan Nyland hasn’t really been dealt a fair hand here. 

With the announcement that Lovre Kalinic would be joining the club on January 1st, Orjan Nyland was faced with an uphill battle to try and ensure that he remained in between the sticks, forcing him to perform better, cut out his individual mistakes and be more commanding in goal.

It’s likely that the Swansea game won’t be enough to see him in goal after the game against Queens Park Rangers, but it should provide him with the boost he needs to try and get a few more clean sheets under his belt.

With Jed Steer out on loan at Charlton Athletic, and out of contract at the end of the season, Andres Moreira likely to be sent back to Atletico Madrid either in the January window or left to rot for the remainder of the season, and Mark Bunn acting more as a secondary goalkeeping coach and friend-to-all nowadays – the battle for the #1 shirt is on between two International calibre keepers in Kalinic and Nyland. 

That’s not something to complain about. 

Whilst Orjan Nyland has had a troubled start to his career at Aston Villa, he’s a competent shot stopper and working alongside (and against) Lovre Kalinic will hopefully see them both improve in the future.

Should one of them be injured after this season, there’s the likes of Matija Sarkic and Viljami Sinisalo that can deputise. 

It’s smart business by the club, and it’s smart football by Dean Smith. 

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