Aston Villa have been linked with Nice midfielder Wylan Cyprien, who offers a clear upgrade on current starter Conor Hourihane.

Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy


It’s no surprise that Aston Villa have been linked with another central midfielder this week following reports from The Telegraph that stated Dean Smith was interested in bringing in either Ross Barkley or Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan from Chelsea this summer.

The latest name on the radar of the Villa Park recruitment team is one Wylan Cyprien, of OGC Nice who play in Ligue 1. Sky sports are currently reporting that Villa have held talks with his representatives ahead of a possible move.

Able to play the ‘Hourihane’ role effectively, Cyprien is a balanced midfielder who is able to offer both attacking threat and defensive stability, and is likely to be considered a more well-rounded option compared to our Republic of Ireland midfielder.

Links first started in January of this year, with French media reporting that Cyprien was approached by Aston Villa, but the midfielder reported turned down the move as it was ‘not a priority’.

The 25-year-old former France youth international enjoyed an exceptional season in Ligue 1 last season, amassing 1,774 minutes over 20 appearances for a side that finished fifth.

A look at his statistics last season, via data provided by Opta, show that Cyprien, who managed seven goals and three assists in domestic competitions, is a clear upgrade on current midfielder Conor Hourihane.

Hourihane is lauded for his deal ball and passing ability, but Wylan Cyprien trumps him in passing in every single metric. The Frenchman’s passing is, compared to Conor, almost exemplary.

Passing MetricConor HourihaneWylan Cyprien
Passes Attempted6101251
Passes Completed5041096
Pass Accuracy (%)82.68%87.61%
Long Passes Attempted46121
Long Pass Accuracy (%)43.48%61.98%
Passes Completed in Opp. Half354507
Crosses Attempted11297
Cross Accuracy (%)25%29.9%

Besides a clear superior passing ability, Cyprien is also stronger, and better in the defensive area of the game too. The OGC Nice midfielder boasts better statistics than Hourihane in duels contested, tackles made, interceptions, aerial duel success (percentage) and ground duel success (percentage). In some of these instances the difference is miniscule, but Cyprien is clearly an improvement on the Republic of Ireland midfielder. Conor only beats Cyprien in blocks and clearances.

Wylan is a strong attacker too, making more shots (and by result of this, scoring more goals) – but also in bringing team-mates into play, making 30 “successful lay-offs” last season. Hourihane boasts a stronger shot accuracy than the Frenchman.

The Hourihane position brings great debate amongst Aston Villa fans, but the side are in need a player who can fill in within the precipice between attacking and defending in a game, the role that Hourihane is currently tasked with playing. With Douglas Luiz nailed on for the holding midfield role and John McGinn a sure-start as the ‘box-to-box’, Hourihane’s position is the only one whose role is under pressure.

Cyprien provides a clear upgrade, and with the fee required to lure him away from the Allianz Riviera Nice Stadium thought to have dropped to less than £10,000,00 – he could prove to be a smart bit of business this summer should the rumours be true.

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