Time for goodbye – Why Aston Villa must part ways with Dean Smith’s first-ever signing for the club

Lovre Kalinic playing for Aston Villa in the FA Cup.
Lovre Kalinic playing for Aston Villa in the FA Cup. (Getty Images)

Why Aston Villa should let go of Lovre Kalinic

According to Croatian news outlet Sportske (h/t Birmingham Mail), Toulouse are keen on signing Aston Villa flop Lovre Kalinic permanently. Kalinic is currently on loan at Toulouse, who, meanwhile, are fighting for their survival in the French top division. The Ligue 1 side, however, can make Kalinic’s deal permanent if they avoid relegation (h/t Birmingham Mail).

Aston Villa goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic in action for Croatia.
Aston Villa goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic barks orders to his teammates while playing for national side Croatia. (Getty Images)

30-year-old Kalinic was current boss Dean Smith’s first signing when he took over the reins at Villa Park from former coach Steve Bruce. However, the Croatian international has fallen down the pecking order of things at Villa, forcing the club to send him on loan abroad in order to get some game time.

Despite signing for Villa in the January 2019, Kalinic has managed just eight appearances till now and has just one clean sheet to his name. After breaking into the first-team line-up following manager Smith’s signing, Kalinic saw himself fall out of favour due to poor form and injuries.

This led to the Croatian being dismissed from the first-team responsibilities. Jed Steer replaced him as Villa’s No.1 for the rest of the season. Moreover, Kalinic’s chances in the side were further limited after Tom Heaton arrived in the summer, .

Tom Heaton has established himself as the No.1 keeper at Aston Villa this season.
Tom Heaton has established himself as the No.1 keeper at Aston Villa this season. (Getty Images)

However, it was Spaniard Pepe Reina’s arrival in January that sealed the deal for the goalkeeper as he fell behind the rest. Much to Kalinic’s luck, his Villa nightmare soon ended as Toulouse signed him on loan until the end of the season.

The switch to France seemed to have worked in his favour. Kalinic soon impressed between the sticks, making four league appearances and keeping two clean sheets before tragedy struck once again.

A thigh injury midway in February ruled him out of action. The Villa custodian could not feature in the French side’s next four league fixtures. He now faces an uncertain future after play got suspended due to coronavirus crisis.

Kalinic faces an uncertain future at Villa

However, with Toulouse almost on the verge of relegation, Kalinic’s chances of appearing again for the French side seems very bleak. The Croatian custodian is expected to return to his parent club Villa at the end of the season. He has a contract until 2023 with the Premier League outfit.

Goalkeeper, Orjan Nyland of Aston Villa celebrates after his side’s win in the EFL Carabao Cup. (Getty Images)

With Villa also fighting to stay in the Premier League at the moment, Kalinic’s future looks almost uncertain. Heaton, who is currently injured, is the side’s undisputed first-choice man. He is expected to slot into that role when he returns.

Reina is on a loan until the end of the season and should return to parent club AC Milan. However, they still have Steer, Norwegian Orjan Nyland, and young keeper Matija Sarkic in the mix. And Kalinic may find himself way below the rest in the pecking order.

Lovre Kalinic playing for Aston Villa in the FA Cup.
Lovre Kalinic playing for Aston Villa in the FA Cup. (Getty Images)

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That said, it would be better for Villa to let go of Kalinic than let him stay with the side as he clearly does not seem to be in Smith’s plan at the moment. Hence, it would be wise if Villa offers him on loan to another side or sell him permanently.

Verdict

Without Kalinic, Villa already have five keepers in the side, which makes him surplus to the club’s requirements. They have enough back-up and it would be imprudent of Villa to hold onto the Croatian. They could rather use the money to reinforce their squad in necessary areas ahead of next season.

Written by Siddharth

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