Why Aston Villa should keep hold of Bjorn Engels for the time being
Royal Antwerp, Anderlecht and Club Brugge are all understood to be lining up deals for the 26-year-old, who hasn’t featured at all in the Premier League for Dean Smith’s side in so far this season. (h/t Express & Star)
Engels shot to prominence with Club Brugge in his homeland and went on to enjoy productive stints at Olympiacos in Greece and Stade Reims in France. He joined Villa from Reims in the summer of 2019 following the Lions’ promotion to the top-flight and quickly established himself as a regular fixture at the back.
The former Belgian U-21 international forged a solid partnership with Tyrone Mings, enjoying a bright start to life in the Premier League. Engels, though, struggled with injuries over the second half of last season, resulting in a slip down the pecking order under Smith.
His absence opened the door for Kortney Hause to break into the manager’s plans, leaving Engels as a peripheral figure in the set-up.
With Mings and Ezri Konsa impressing as Villa’s first-choice centre-back pairing this season, Engels hasn’t got a look in from the manager. Hause has emerged as the go-to option whenever Smith has opted to tinker with his selection at the back. Engels has been a regular inclusion in the club’s matchday squads in the Premier League but is yet to enter the field of play.
Putting things into perspective, the speculation over Bjorn Engels’ future at Villa Park doesn’t come as a massive surprise given his lack of game time this season. However, Aston Villa would still be better off keeping the Belgian on their books this month as he offers some real depth and quality in the centre-back department.
Indeed, Engels has suffered a significant fall from grace this season, having started 15 games in the Premier League last term. He is effectively Villa’s fourth-choice centre-back but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have a part to play between now and the end of the campaign.
While Mings and Konsa have been absolutely top-notch this term, Villa’s depth at the back might be tested heading into a hectic winter period where the possibility of injuries creeping in certainly can’t be ruled out.
Considering that Villa don’t have a specialist fifth centre-back in their ranks, losing Engels in January would deal a blow to their squad depth. The 26-year-old had a decent debut season in English football last term and could come in handy for Smith in the coming months with fixtures set to come thick and fast.
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In truth, Engels’ lack of game time this season has largely been down to the consistency of Mings and Konsa at the back. However, if Aston Villa really feel that he isn’t good enough, then they should definitely consider moving him on next summer.
Sanctioning an exit in January, though, wouldn’t be the smartest idea as that would put undue pressure on the club to find a replacement. Villa are under no real pressure to sell either, with Engels still having several years left on his contract.