Aston Villa Opinion: James Justin could be an ideal replacement for Neil Taylor
According to Stoke-on-Trent Live, Aston Villa have triggered a bidding spree for Luton Town left-back James Justin, with reports claiming that the Lions have launched a £7.5 million bid to sign the 21-year-old this summer.
Aston Villa, however, are not the only club to have been credited with an interest in the England U20 international, with Stoke-on-Trent Live reporting that Stoke City and Premier League outfit Leicester City are also hot on the trail of the youngster.
James Justin was one of the architects of Luton Town’s promotion-winning campaign in League One this season, as the 21-year-old contributed with 3 goals and 8 assists in 43 appearances to propel the Hatters to the Championship for the first time in 12 years.
The 21-year-old was also a key figure in Luton’s promotion from League Two to League One in the 2017-18 season and his rapid progress hasn’t eluded the eyes of some of the bigger clubs in English football.
Justin joined Luton Town’s academy as a 7-year-old back in 2005 and rose through the ranks to make his senior professional debut in League Two in the 2015-16 season.
He soon established himself as a regular in the first-team and has been an integral part of the Hatters side that has won back-to-back promotions. Justin has made a total of 114 appearances for Luton in all competitions till date, scoring 6 goals and setting up another 13 in the process.
The 21-year-old defender has earned plaudits for his versatility to play on either side of the backline. Primarily a right-footed player, he broke into the team as a left-back and has played on the right-hand side as well.
A fast, agile, athletic modern-day offensive-minded full-back in the making, the youngster has caught the eye with his well-rounded passing and crossing attributes, as well as his work-rate and youthful exuberance.
To put things into perspective, James Justin is still untested at the Championship level but he has outgrown the League One, and at 21, the time might just be right for him to take the next big step in his career.
Of course, he can enjoy his football in the second-tier with Luton Town given that they have secured promotion but a move to Aston Villa should work wonders for his development.
Stoke Sentinel claims that Aston Villa are determined to sign the full-back irrespective of whether or not they secure promotion to the Premier League by beating Derby County in the playoff finals.
This is a clear statement of intent from the Lions that they believe James Justin can make the jump up to the Premier League directly from League One.
It is a no-brainer that Villa would need to look for reinforcements at both right-back and left-back should they make it to the Premier League. The Lions signed up French right-back Frederic Guilbert in January to provide competition for Ahmed Elmohamady and he is set to arrive at Villa Park next season but lack of options on the left might come back to haunt them.
Alan Hutton has been rotated on either side of the backline but the former Spurs man has proven himself to be a liability at times. Specialist left-back Neil Taylor has often left much to be desired with his contribution, both in terms of attack and defence.
Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause, who are on loan from Bournemouth and Wolves respectively, have added a lot of solidity to Villa’s backline since their arrival in January but it remains to be seen whether the Lions manage to sign either of them permanently.
Securing promotion to the Premier League would make it easier for Villa to sign Mings, who is capable of playing as a left-back and centre-back, but the Lions should look to use him at the heart of the defence given his physicality and aerial prowess.
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Suffice to say, the acquisition of James Justin could possibly solve a lot of problems for Villa and they should go ahead with the deal and beat off competition for the talented youngster.