Morgan Sanson signed for Villa in a cut-price deal last January, but he has started just three games and has been unable to build any real momentum in the squad due to injury.
He is finally back amongst the matchday squads and even now fans are unsure what he will have to offer.
The truth is, he could be exactly what the midfield needs and the game in the League Cup against Chelsea is the perfect opportunity for him to showcase this.
The emergence of Jacob Ramsey in a midfield three hasn’t helped his chances, but Villa fans will soon realise he offers a very similar playing style to Ramsey and the competition he offers in this position may help both players.
In the 2019/20 season, Marseille finished second in the league. A campaign which was cut short due to the pandemic but nevertheless, Sanson was influential in a very competitive Marseille side that could’ve challenged Paris Saint Germain for the title if it had continued.
He averaged 3.2 shot creating actions and just over one key pass per game for the French side. He provides an immense amount of creativity from midfield and this could be exactly what Villa need in the midfield three they so often operate now. Ramsey has looked bright here but in terms of the end product he is yet to develop that last bit of composure to damage teams.
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Sanson has this level of creation due to his ability to pick the ball up from deep and drive his side forward.
He averaged 5.75 progressive carries a game in this season and was often tasked with bringing the ball up the pitch and running at opponents. He will drive Villa forward and increase the chances of getting the ball to the likes of Danny Ings or Ollie Watkins in dangerous areas.
He isn’t just a luxury midfielder either, which is why he might be so effective in the 4-3-3 or 3-5-2.
With just under 30 pressures a game in this season it has been said by some that he possesses ‘a third lung’ at times if you watch him run. For reference, Watkins averaged 17 pressures last season, and he is often classed as one of the best pressers in the league.
If Sanson can get back to full fitness and replicate this work-rate then fans will waste no time in taking to him in a Villa shirt. It is only made more appealing by the return he gets from this running. With 7.7 loose balls recovered a game and an average of 3.3 tackles and interceptions , he not only disrupts the opponents, but he also reaps the rewards.
The Chelsea fixture offers Villa a chance of redemption following their 3-0 defeat in the league, but it also offers the chance for many players to make a claim to Dean Smith to be starting against Manchester United on the weekend.
Sanson recently played 45 minutes against Wycombe Wanderers in the EFL Trophy and hinted he may soon be back to his best as he perfectly set up Cameron Archer for the equaliser. This is a link-up fans may see in tomorrow’s fixture.
Sanson, as well as players such as Bertrand Traore, Emiliano Buendia and Anwar El Ghazi, will all likely be involved and will be keen to make a lasting impact.
If the Frenchman can rediscover the form he showed for Marseille that led to this move, Smith will have yet another selection headache on his mind.
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