It’s hard to precisely point the finger of blame when it comes to Aaron Tshibola.
It’s not his fault we bought him ultimately.
However, somewhere, something has gone spectacularly amiss in the last few months for the 22 year old. The fact that he is just 22 is perhaps a factor in itself.
As Villa crashed out of the Premier League, the midfield was clearly not just ill-suited to the task that had gone before, but looked ill-prepared for the challenge ahead.
With that in mind, Villa recruited.
This recruitment saw Tshibola brought in as part of what [at the time] was described as a “new spine”.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s obvious that such an inexperienced player, with limited senior game time & injury problems was not going to be the answer.
Villa needed to arrest a worrying slide with the addition of proven, assured players; Tshibola struggled to fit the bill immediately.
With the change of manager and a niggling injury, Tshibola then also became peripheral.
This was particularly significant given that Villa’s midfield options at that time were threadbare or proven failures at Villa.
What followed were 3 further unconvincing appearance in a Villa shirt [under Bruce], a four week layoff and a struggle to get near the first team as January arrived.
Whilst Bruce openly refuted the suggestion that Tshibola would leave in the January window on loan [as late as the Christmas pre-Burton press conference]. This was swiftly reneged upon presumably having considered a poor U23 display & midfield reinforcements arriving.
Further, the player’s agent was also active, touting the disappointing midfielder around for a loan, securing a move to Nottingham Forest for the remainder of the season. The agent’s touting irked Bruce, understandably, but perhaps moved on a man [and possibly all/part wages] permitting further recruits to come in.
Whilst many Villa fans were indifferent to Tshibola’s departure given the significant incoming players to the club, its hard not to wonder what might have been. [Heck, what possibly still could be..]
“Maybe a change of scenery would benefit his development?”
Therefore the opportunity to watch Tshibola from afar, at Championship level, did also appeal somewhat.
However, the facts make for grim reading. Despite Forest’s struggles, he has failed to stake any claim upon a place in the first eleven. More concerningly, he’s also been completely missing from the matchday squad altogether on occasion.
An incredibly brief cameo is the only proof he still exists in the last 6 weeks. It was also reported in early March that his deal was expected to “naturally expire” with Forest in the summer. Hardly a great impression being made there then.
For a £5 million pound player, earmarked as a combative, exciting force, it raises significant alarm bells.
What does this mean for Villa?
Perhaps it is less about Tshibola and more about Villa’s thoughtless splurging of cash.
After years of austere ownership that brought the club to it’s knees, we now have an owner willing to invest the cash to improve the playing staff. There are no complaints there, certainly.
However, we have already had the costly McCormack debacle and Tshibola runs the risk of being another costly oversight.
[This also parks the question marks around our homework on players like Gollini, Elphick and poor preparations for the AFCON absentees.]
This is a Villa owner/management regime which insisted it wouldn’t repeat the errors of old, after-all. Well, for all the good that is being done, there have been some expensive clangers dropped already.
Tshibola may not make the grade at Villa, but the recurring cost of such failure can only inhibit and distract us as we seek to achieve our single goal: A return to the Premier League.