Whilst there’s no getting away from the fact that Chris Samba is 33 years old, a 1 year deal for a player with a wealth of European & international experiences doesn’t do any harm….right?
Similarly to John Terry, it’s naive to simply recall visions of 7 or 8 years ago in our minds. This was their ‘peak’ and it’s rather a long time ago.
The reality is that this latest signing is at best a ‘stop gap’ to provide cover across our back line. Samba, at 33 and following a period unattached to any football club, let’s be honest, can’t be badged as much more.
However, it’s certainly not so far fetched to envisage a rotation with the likes of Terry for cup games or those periods where Championship fixtures come thick and fast. The latter was a major eye-opener last term with James Chester the only real constant across the back four in 2016/17.
Whilst the recent friendly against Walsall (FT: 0-0 zzz) was bereft of ‘highlights’, Samba cut a determined figure. Indeed, I commented at the time that he was one of very few who looked mildly interested:
Now, it would be ridiculous to suggest that signings such as his are earth-shattering, or indeed necessarily put us in a better position than signing a younger equivalent; but it does make some sense in the here and now.
Whether we care [dare?] to admit it or not, Villa appear shackled by wasteful splurging on fees and wages. Past and present.
Of the new signings to have rolled in of late, there’s a notable absence of anything but a token fee: [Ahmed Elmohamady & Glenn Whelan circa £1m].
It is fierce financial restraint, make no mistake, and whilst that’s a necessary evil, it means that signings such as Samba are inevitable.
Let’s not forget that we are a club still burdened by bloated deals from the disastrous relegation squad. This problem is further compounded by multiple costly flops brought in by Di Matteo.
To Samba’s credit, he has gone about his business quietly having been training with the club since the early part of 2017. He brings unquestionable footballing experience as well as strength of character having been subject to at least two high profile incidences of racism.
There are also stark comparisons to his early career. Having broken his leg at 19, he was released and worked tirelessly to haul himself off the footballing scrapheap despite repeated knock-backs across the continent. More than a decade later, history is perhaps repeating itself.
Does he deserve the deal? Can Villa afford such a gamble? Are we asking for trouble with the average age of the squad creeping ever upwards?
It’s another calculated risk that Bruce will undoubtedly be judged upon as the new season looms ever closer.