First things, first… Aston Villa have signed a striker.
The club finally were confident enough to announce the long mooted signing of Mbwana Samatta from KRC Genk, despite the formalities of his work permit and international clearance not being fully processed yet.
The Tanzanian international striker has signed a four-and-half year deal for a fee reportedly to be in the region of £10m.
While he’ll obviously miss out on Villa’s upcoming Watford game, he should make his debut in the forthcoming League Cup semi-final second-leg, despite what some media (Sky, Talk Sport etc) have reported.
There is nothing in the Carabao Cup rules that suggests he can’t play against Leicester City, as long as he is registered in time and hasn’t previously played in the League Cup for another team. If Samatta could play in a Premier League game at the same time, then he’s also good to go in the cup game.
It’ll certainly be an interesting game for Samatta to make his Villa debut with him acting as something of a wild card, as the Foxes will never have seen him play for Villa before.
Here’s the League Cup rules regarding player selection:
League Player Rules
6.1 In all rounds of the Competition a player shall be a “registered player” of his Club, as defined in Rule 6.2 below.
6.2 A registered player is:
6.2.1 in the case of a League Club, one who would be registered and eligible to participate in a League Competition match commencing at the same time and on the same date as the Competition match in accordance with the provisions of League Regulations; and
6.2.2 in the case of a Premier League Club, one who would be registered and eligible to participate in a Premier League match commencing at the same time and on the same date as the Competition match in accordance with the Premier League Rules, or would have been but for the operation of Premier League Rule U.1.1 (Squad List).
6.3 Players registered on a temporary basis will not be eligible to play unless the Club holding his full registration gives its written consent (also subject to any restrictions on the number of loan players prescribed by applicable Premier League Rules or League Regulations).
6.4 No player shall play for more than one Club in the Cup Competition in any one Season.
6.5 Each Club shall play its full available strength in and during all Cup Competition matches, unless some satisfactory reason is given. The Board will from time to time issue a policy as to what constitutes ‘full available strength’. In the event of the explanation not being deemed satisfactory the Management Committee shall have power to impose such penalties as they shall think fit. The provisions governing disciplinary matters in relation to the Competition are contained in Rule 24.
Samatta has scored 10 goals this season in all competitions, including a Champions League goal versus Liverpool. While his record in the Belgian League – this or in previous seasons – doesn’t necessarily exchange into Premier League goal currency, he has decent pace, is a decent header of the ball and is a tidy finisher.
It’ll be interesting to see if Dean Smith maintains any amount of fluidity in his front three, or if Samatta will be a out-and-out straight down the middle front man.
In short, Villa will hope that the player can fast track adapting to the league and hit the ground running.
Before Villa confirmed the purchase of Samatta, there was the announcement of Jonathan Kodjia leaving Villa for Qatar, after signing for Al Gharafa SC to the tune of around £2m.
With Kodjia only having until the end of the season left on his contract and being out of favour with Dean Smith (and MOMS), it’s about as good as it gets for Villa from a business point of view.
No doubt Kodjia will also be financially better off personally too, than if he had ended up at his likely alternative destination of a Championship club.
Kodjia’s move also makes Villa signing another striker, at least on loan, more likely.
Meanwhile, goalkeeping flop Lovre Kalinic has finally ended his exile and found a route out of the club via a loan to Toulouse. With one eye on playing for Croatia in the upcoming Euros, the Croatian will be glad of a chance of first team football, after Villa’s loan signing of Pepe Reina cast the club’s final word on his chances at B6.