Reports yesterday revealed that Keinan Davis may be close to signing a two year extension to his current deal.
Words: Andy Bates | @k2_villa
It was reported yesterday evening, by Football Insider, that Aston Villa have offered Keinan Davis a contract extension, that would keep him at the club for the next three seasons. Whilst nothing in this claim has yet been confirmed, it does raise some interesting questions regarding the striker and his future options.
It had been widely considered that despite some assured performances, particularly after lockdown, Davis would make his way out on loan, preferably to the Championship, with a hope that a consistent run of games would bring his game on further.
Whilst Davis has always been popular amongst Villa fans, the huge question mark against him is his prowess in front of goal, a must for any budding Premier League centre forward. Playing up front is not as simple as just scoring goals.
Indeed the positional requirements have altered dramatically over the past couple of decades, as strikers are asked to do far more work for the team. Gone are the days of Lineker et al, where one touch a game would guarantee your name on next week’s teamsheet, if said touch ended up in the net.
What Keinan suffers with is the opposite problem. Exemplary hold up play, great on the half turn, good turn of pace and a pinpoint understanding of what he needs to do to help the attacking side of the team operate effectively. He is a midfielder’s dream. Always offering an outlet and holding the ball expertly to allow the attack to progress.
The mind invariably casts back to Norwich at home in 2017, when Steve Bruce threw Davis in, despite the availability for Scott Hogan, to deliver a man of the match performance, which the Norwich defenders probably still have nightmares about. Even Conor Hourihane’s match winning hat trick couldn’t wrestle the champagne magnum from Davis’ clutches that day.
I recall sitting in a pub with a pint of Magners and a burger after the game, with a huge smile on my face thinking, “Steve Bruce has just replaced Benteke”. Like many I expected goals to follow, however just one league goal away at Barnsley and another in a 3-1 home defeat to Peterborough in the FA Cup was where the goal trail ended that season.
In truth, as with others like Andre Green and Jed Steer, injuries have been Keinan’s main enemy. He has had a number of medium term injuries which have hampered his development over the past three seasons. Notably last season, just when it looked like Smith’s patience with record signing Wesley was wearing thin, Davis picked up another niggle, which kept him out for enough time to make him unable to take advantage of the Brazilian striker’s ACL injury. By the time he came back to fitness, Villa had been forced to enter the market for Ally Samatta, who largely kept the striker berth until lockdown.
Somewhat surprisingly, Dean Smith put his faith in Davis initially during Project Restart, when once again he showed those same qualities, but just could not find the net. A gilt-edged opportunity against Arsenal at home summed his fortunes up, as he and Grealish created the chance, only for Davis to slice wide of Martinez’s goal.
In truth, there are far more positives than negatives about Keinan Davis and whilst we must acknowledge the cut throat, unforgiving nature of Premier League football, often there are characters such as Davis who deserve to be given every opportunity to reach their undoubted potential at this level.
Whilst we can assume that most reasonable Villa fans would not complain at Davis signing on at the club, It would seem prudent for him to be allowed out on loan in order to build his sharpness and experience, whilst also increasing his market value in line with the club’s business philosophy. Keinan may never be the marksman that we hoped he would be, but he has enough qualities that he could develop into a very useful Premier League player for Aston Villa, if managed correctly. Certainly a season on the fringes at Villa would not provide this same opportunity.