Aaron Tshibola will move into the final year of his Aston Villa contract next season, having appeared only ten times for the club after being excluded by former management regimes. Can he resurrect his B6 career in a holding midfielder role?
Words by Regan Foy (@FindFoy)
Aston Villa outcast Aaron Tshibola has another year on his contract when he returns to the club this summer, and with a host of midfielders set to leave the club when their contracts end when the season concludes, as well as a number of under-utilised players joining the exodus.
Tshibola could quite easily be a part of that exodus, but it’s more likely that Dean Smith will take a look at the Congolese international thoroughly during pre-season before deciding whether he’s to be shipped out of the club or not.
Aaron Tshibola was one of the first signings made by then manager Robert Di Matteo and assistant manager Steve Clarke, who the midfielder is currently playing under at Kilmarnock, for around £5,000,000.
The Reading academy graduate has technically been at Aston Villa for three seasons, but has only managed 10 games for the club – eight in the league, one in the FA cup and one in the League cup. He also appeared three times for the U-23 side. In all of his appearances at various levels, he’s scored two goals from midfield.
But it seems to be a his poor attitude, either on the training ground or off-the-pitch that has stunted his growth at Aston Villa – something that is relatively common when the club sign any player touted as the ‘next best thing’.
Once Steve Bruce took the reigns after Roberto Di Matteo’s sacking, Aaron Tshibola was limited to just four games before he was shipped out to Nottingham Forest to play a lacklustre 200 minutes of football in his time there.
The next season, still under Steve Bruce, Tshibola was loaned out to MK Dons, where he played regular football for around fifteen games, before their manager terminated the loan contract and sent the midfielder packing back to Bodymoor. There were a few reasons given for his return, namely that the Dons wanted to “allow young players to get their chance” and that Aaron “regularly went missing in games”.
Hoping to resurrect his career, Tshibola returned to Aston Villa before being told there was no chance of him playing, and he moved up to Scotland for a half season loan with Kilmarnock. At the start of this current season, Steve Bruce did the same thing again, poorly managing a number of players, and sent Tshibola packing early into the season, back to Kilmarnock.
And the 24-year-old is impressing north of the border this season, performing in 24 games so far this season, whilst picking up a goal for his troubles.
A tenacious player, he could easily fit into a Dean Smith system as a holding midfielder – especially with the likelihood of Glenn Whelan, Mile Jedinak and Birkir Bjarnason leaving the club rising on a day-to-day basis. Rather than spending copious amounts of money on recruiting new players, it’s worthwhile giving Tshibola a chance in pre-season to see if we’ve got a player there already – avoiding the same mistake Aston Villa have made with goalkeeper Jed Steer.
In terms of style of play, Aaron Tshibola is adept at intercepting a ball and tackling, as well as playing short passes to those ahead of him – making him perfect for a holding midfielder role. He gets fouled often, too, as he likes to bring the ball out. He’d fit into Dean Smith’s philosophy of high pressing, short passing football.
The only issue with Tshibola is his discipline. The midfielder has amassed seven yellow cards in 24 games for Kilmarnock this season, which is just under a yellow per every three games. He’s a walking issue in regards to potentially getting a red card or a disciplinary ban.
It’s likely we’ll see Tshibola back at Bodymoor for pre-season next season whilst Smith gets a real look at him – something the manager is definitely interested in doing as shown by his recall of Jordan Lyden from Oldham.