There’s always something slightly odd about offering a seasoned professional a trial. Bruce might be reluctant to refer to this as a trial, but it is, albeit likely focusing upon fitness more than anything else.
Whilst it’s certainly a sensible idea that the club take a closer look; this is a player who has played in the Premier League and across Europe.
What could there be left to find out about Chris Samba that cannot be determined on his most recent clubs, trials and form/fitness?
Ultimately it boils down to one thing; would Samba improve Aston Villa?
THE CASE FOR
- Samba brings a wealth of defensive experience.
- Villa’s tested senior cover extends only to Tommy Elphick, who hasn’t demonstrated much reliability to date.
- Experienced in top flight German, English, Russian & European competition.
- Current Captain of the DRC & commands over 12 years of international caps.
- A known and tested physical presence at the heart of a defence or option on the bench.
- Appeared trim in recent U23 victory against Wolves – however – lasted an hour. Bruce was in attendance at the fixture.
- Is a free agent; the only cost would be wages on a (likely) short term deal.
THE CASE AGAINST
- Question marks over fitness as a result of injuries and lack of first team matches in recent seasons.
- What the motivation? Samba is extraordinarily wealthy after hugely rewarding contracts with QPR and Anzhi Makhachkala.
- Failed to impress Sam Allardyce whilst on trial at Crystal Palace in Jan/Feb of this year. Reasons cited for rejection were broadly fitness related.
- Villa have been stung by ‘over-the hill’ defenders all too often. Senderos & Lescott spring to mind as recent examples for differing reasons around fitness/quality respectively.
- Would the signing inhibit or reduce the likelihood of seeing academy prospects blooded into the first XI towards the end of this season & beyond?
The fact is that the social media chatter has been broadly negative around Samba’s proposed Villa move.
Whilst this isn’t necessarily representative of the wider Villa supporter ‘opinion’, [nor is that necessarily ‘right’] most fans would reasonably harbour reservations given some of the reasons above.
From the Villa Underground’s point of view there are pros and cons to any deal. If the Samba who’s at Bodymoor Heath is anything like the player who was a man mountain at Blackburn all those years ago then it’s a good deal. However, if he’s a shadow of that player, plagued by fitness complaints, then we should learn from our past mistakes.
This could be a deal for Villa with little to lose. Equally, it could just be a waste of time where energy should be best spent re-shaping our squad to challenge.
It is a tricky call. Villa could offer the huge centre half a short term deal, likely on reduced wage terms & run the rule over him in the remaining fixtures of the campaign.
The games we’ve got left will increasingly have less and less overall significance, but must surely form part of our advanced preparations for next seasons anticipated promotion push.
This therefore raises the question as to whether Bruce genuinely see’s the Congolese defender being a part of the defensive options.
Why on earth are we even considering Chris Samba? Too old, hasn’t been good for a while and imagine he will want decent wages…
— Ian DW (@sportdw) February 24, 2017
I hope Chris Samba proves us all wrong #avfc
— Alfie Butler (@Alfie_Av) February 22, 2017
Chris Samba training with #AVFC 👀 They’ll not complete the full #QPR transformation until their chairman announces Samba Diakite 💪
— Rob Brennan (@RobBrennan82) February 22, 2017
Always a dangerous measure of a footballer…