Liverpool’s winger has been one of the names that just seems to not want to disappear during this window.
Words by Harry Trend | @HazaTrand
Dean Smith is facing competition for Liverpool winger Ryan Kent from Leeds and Rangers, the latter of which he spent last season on loan with. If Smith does manage to bring the PFA Scotland young player of the year to Villa Park, what would he add to the team?
With Albert Adomah being released and both Anwar El Ghazi and Andre Green not proven at Premier League level, Aston Villa need as much help as they can get out wide. Fore-most, we need quality in depth, and Kent will bring that to Villa.
Last season the 22-year-old mostly played on the left of midfield for the Rangers despite being right footed. Although Steven Gerrard did deploy him once or twice on the right or in-behind the striker, all of Kent’s goal contributions came on that left wing – many from cutting in.
Talking of goal contributions, Kent scored six and assisted five as Rangers finished second in the Scottish Premier League. Promisingly, many of his goals came from different situations. For example, his goal against Celtic came about after Kent moved into a centre-forward position, pushing the ball past his man, the Liverpool loanee stroked the ball in with his right. But against St Mirren, Kent made a deep run from the left prior to dinking the ball over the goalkeeper with his left foot. In past Premier League campaigns Villa have struggled for goals, frankly it’ll be better to score from all areas of the pitch next term rather than having one player who bangs them all in before getting sold to one of the big boys the following season.
Kent isn’t your archetypal winger who’ll cross the ball in all day though. Typically, a wingers pass accuracy will be 85% or lower, but Kent’s is 89%. This backs up highlight packages of the man looking to play a quick but simple short pass to increase the tempo and unsettle an opposition defending their penalty area.
Also, Kent isn’t afraid to try from distance, with the winger averaging two shots per game in all competitions for Rangers. He adds sting to them too, and with a Villa containing an excess of players not afraid to pull the trigger already – Grealish, McGinn, Hourihane, El Ghazi, this could lead to teams more eager to close us down thus leaving space in behind their defence.
Ryan Kent would be a signing that fits the Dean Smith blueprint – a young and eager player ready for his stab at England’s top tier. He’s matured much in the way Grealish has physically as well, this is perhaps a result of having Championship experience at Bristol City, Barnsley and even Bundesliga experience with SC Freiburg under his belt. This has aided his explosiveness and dynamism, something Villa wingers have lacked in the past.
Whether it be a loan with an option-to-buy, or meeting Liverpool’s £12 million asking price, Aston Villa should get him on board the return voyage to the Premier League.