Aston Villa’s new warhorse Libor Kozák might have joined the club earlier
When Libor Kozák signed for Villa he admitted to Italian press that Villa had been interested in him and had been in talks with Lazio for two months.
You don’t need to be a detective to see that time period starts at the point the Christian Benteke contract situation seemed to go sour for Villa with the Belgian handing in his transfer request. The time period of Villa’s interest in the Czech forward was also confirmed by Lambert in the post-signing presser for Kozák
“We’ve been on this one for the last few months, trying to bring him to the club, so I’m delighted to get it across the line,” Lambert told the press.
The Czech forward’s goal-scoring exploits in the Europa League were the main calling card to perk Lambert’s interest, with Kozák getting the golden boot for the tournament with 10 goals. At 6 foot 3 he had the build and power to be the target man Lambert likes to have at the top of his teams – ala Grant Holt and Benteke.
With Darren Bent off the wage bill, it seems the modest price for Kozák was worth paying anyway to a) give Benteke back-up and competition, and b) give Villa a chance to bed him in, if Benteke does leave in a season’s time.
A few Villa supporters thought that the 6ft 5 Nicklas Helenius, albeit not a target man per se, was a player that Lambert was looking to adapt to fill Benteke boots in the long-term, since he has the height, touch and an eye for goal, and perhaps just needed to bulk up.
Lambert described Helenius as a “different kind of player”, which suggests the Dane was always brought in by the Villa boss to add variation and to supplement the attack.
It terms of being a focal point or ‘target man’, Kozák certainly has the power and heart, as Serie A pundit Matteo Bonetti alluded to in a tweet, MOMS mentioned in a lowdown on the striker.
“Big bruising Lazio striker Libor Kozák. Never met a face he didn’t like to plow his elbow into. Will do great,” tweeted Bonetti.
As we can see from the above picture of Kozák from a Lazio vs AC Milan game, he certainly likes to get amongst it. And it doesn’t seem to be a one-off.
“Libor Kozak finished fifty percent of the games he plays in with a bloody gauze wrapped around his forehead,” Bonetti also tweeted.
Don’t believe him? Here’s a picture from a Lazio game against Siena…
Oh, and here’s one from a Europa League match against Panathinaikos…
After Ciaran Clark was taken off with a head injury in the first week of the season, it looks like Villa could get Kozák to fill-in at centre-back too, since blood and mild concussion don’t seem to even register as pain to him!
In a team full of youngsters, an old-fashioned War Horse could be just the ticket to add a bit of toughness to an emerging Villa team. UTV
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