Mahmoud Trezeguet signed for Villa from Turkish side Kasimpasa following the club’s promotion from The Championship. Having started his career for Al Ahly, he switched to Anderlecht before a brief stint at Belgian side Mouscron saw him move to Turkey.
The fee for the 24 year old, although undisclosed by the club, was widely cited to be in the region of £8.75 million. This was of course close season after Villa’s Wembley victory saw the club having to act quickly to replenish a barren squad after a number of loans expired and other senior pro’s exited the club.
In amongst the eye-watering £140 million outlay, was Trezeguet. The Egyptian, real name Mahmoud Hassan, has adopted Trezeguet after the prolific French striker (David), after a coach saw likenesses during his early career.
Whilst Villa were ‘competitive’ in the opening weeks of the season, we soon found that this alone wouldn’t sustain us. As early promise and hope faded away, so did optimism for a number of new signings, Trezeguet was certainly amongst them after a string of under-whelming displays.
The Egyptian international found himself rotated with Anwar El Ghazi, with neither player appearing able to perform and deliver consistently in the starting 11. A lack of pace, end product and wasteful in possession, there were even transfer rumours linking him with a swift move back to Turkey. Few at Villa Park would have batted much of an eyelid.
In time though, Smith has come to show preference towards the midfielder. Despite Trezeguet’s displays being far from the finished article, his effort and energy level is relentless. This is perhaps where he has found the edge over former Ajax midfielder El Ghazi. El Ghazi, despite his technical attributes, cuts an often disinterested figure, much in contrast to the tireless work ethic that Trezeguet exudes.
Trying hard is one thing, but contributing to the team is what matters. Trezeguet has developed a knack for stepping up and scoring important goals as this Villa squad lurched perilously close to relegation. Has he ‘come good’ at just the right time?
The Villa Underground has a slightly longer memory though.
The winger stepped up in a rampant game at Villa Park to score a vital last-gasp volleyed goal to defeat Leicester City. In doing so ensuring we reached the Carabao Cup Final. Although Villa would go on to lose the showpiece to Man City, the semi-final victory came against the odds and prompted an obligatory Villa Park pitch invasion:
However, our league form couldn’t be improved by singular moments of joy within a cup run. As Villa slid ever closer to the trap-door following a string of uninspiring post lockdown results and performances, few would have circled Trezeguet as the catalyst for our resurgence.
Whilst Douglas Luiz played out of his skin, Grealish huffed and puffed, but Villa’s strikers looked impotent. Who would step up to score the goals we needed to survive? Who would have predicted that Trezeguet would step up to the plate with those vital goals? Indeed, few would have circled the winger as recently as Villa’s salvaged away point with Newcastle (1-1). When presented with a fine opportunity with the goal at his mercy, the former Anderlecht man could do no more than blaze over the bar.
After a torrid first half against Crystal Palace, where he could easily have found himself substituted, Trezeguet again tore up the form book to show his worth. Lingering at the far post, as tends to be a recurring tactic, he ran onto a Conor Hourihane free-kick and side-footed home the opener against Crystal Palace on the stroke of half time:
If that wasn’t a timely enough goal, he followed this up early in the second half with a second strike.
With Villa siezing upon a loose ball after a Palace headed clearance, the ball broke to the Egyptian internation. Trezequet still had much to do, managing to half control a headed through ball, again from Hourihane, before slotting coolly into the net:
Villa would go on to beat Crystal Palace (2-0), keeping some semblance of hope that Villa might at least muster a little relegation fight. Is it possible for a player to have his best and worst performance in a Villa shirt? Apparently so.
What followed was Villa dominating until the 87th minute against Everton, only to condede a late Theo Walcott goal.
Once again Villa’s striker’s miss-fired, but on this occasion our goal came not from Trezeguet, but Ezri Konsa.
What followed sets Villa up for the forthcoming Survival Sunday against West Ham.
After the heartbreak at Goodison Park, we next faced a genuine must-win game at Villa Park against an in form Arsenal side. The Gunners arrived off the back of victories against Premier League Champions Liverpool and have beaten Man City to put them into the FA Cup final.
Who stepped up again? Trezeguet; rifling in a first half effort with the sound of boot on leather reverberating around Villa Park. It was a fierce, technically brilliant effort that the keeper could only watch as it threatened to break the net. It could prove to be one of the most important strikes in our modern era and he will likely need to replicate his goalscoring exploits this Sunday against West Ham:
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