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Aston Villa are destined for another season in the Championship beyond this summer, but their success or otherwise next year may depend so much on keeping striker Jonathan Kodjia. The Ivory Coast international has been impressive this season despite Villa’s overall plight. 15 goals in 30 Championship appearances is a terrific record for a forward playing in a relatively unsuccessful side. With a pass completion rate over 71%, large in the context of this team, and 5 man-of-the-match awards his quality is abundantly clear.
Teams like West Bromwich Albion have yo-yoed between the Premier League and the Championship and with Newcastle looking likely to go back up at the first attempt once again; Villa fans may be feeling like the poor relations at having to settle for a mid-table finish. Of course, it could be worse. Clubs of the calibre of Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and even Manchester City have come down to this level and continued their demise to end up in England’s third tier.
All too often, clubs in this position concentrate on buying players to beef up their squad, rather than putting all of their efforts into keeping the quality they already possess. The importance of this for Villa concerning Kodjia cannot be underestimated.
Staying at Villa may well be the best move for the player too, and there is a precedent. Back when they were cashing in on Christian Benteke, Aston Villa were well into their descent towards the Premier League trap door and beyond. With Benteke, there is little doubt they would have survived which I’m certain would be preferable to the Villa board to the £30million+ they received for him from Liverpool.
For the player, his move to Liverpool proved to be a bit of a letdown in all honesty. He could not fire for the Reds or, even if he could, he was doing it as a smaller fish in a bigger pond and his importance therefore to the team was nowhere near as high as it was for Villa. From there, Benteke has found his way to Crystal Palace, a struggling Premiership team playing in just the position, or even lower, to the one Aston Villa would have been occupying if he had stayed. In other words; the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, something Kodjia may do well to remember.
Stats taken from Squawka.com