By Richard Wakefield
Jonathan Kodjia was confirmed as an Aston Villa player in what is potentially a Championship record deal of potentially £15 million. With £4 million being add-ons (no doubt linked to promotion) on top of the guaranteed £11 million, the transfer of Kodjia from Bristol City was certainly expensive and garnered a lot of attention from fans and pundits across the country.
Signing on a four-year deal, Kodjia offers Di Matteo something extra to think about in a forward-line that now boasts a few striker options with Ross McCormack, Rudy Gestede, Jordan Ayew and Kodjia.
Villa owner Tony Xia mentioned that he would potentially sign a world class no.9 before the window shut. In that case Kodjia must have been a bit lower on his preferred striker list, considering the striker cost Bristol City a mere £2m last year.
Jonathan Kodjia only joined Bristol City at the beginning of last season and managed to make 49 appearances in all competitions scoring 20 times. Combining physicality with pace, Kodjia propelled Bristol City to safety in their return to the Championship with a variety of well-taken goals stretching from well-placed headers to calmly taken finishes on the counter.
Kodjia In Stats
Jonathan Kodjia’s impressive goal scoring figures aren’t the only statistics that speak volumes about the player. Kodjia managed to get an average of 2.7 shots per game during the previous campaign whilst his likely competitor Rudy Gestede only managed 1.9 shots per game for Villa.
To further enforce the earlier point, Kodjia isn’t a one-dimensional player, his physicality and presence does not limit him as his dribbles per game was 1.1 unlike Rudy Gestede’s dribbles per game stat coming in at a miserable 0.3.
With the signing of Kodjia, Roberto Di Matteo now boasts a rather potent selection of strikers with the likes of Gestede and McCormack partnered with Ayew and even the re-emergence of Libor Kozak filling the Aston Villa ranks.
Although it seems that Gestede and Kodjia will compete for the target man position to play ahead of McCormack, Di Matteo now has the option to chop, change and manipulate Villa’s formation based on whatever situation is thrown at him. Also, with Gestede’s injury against Derby County, the signing of Kodjia is also a reminder that 11 first team calibre players is never enough for the demanding Championship season.
With statistics and expert opinions being reliable indicators on a player’s quality, another indicator of a player’s ability is if other clubs wanted the player as well.
Whilst it is unknown on who the clubs were (although Hull and Derby were reported to be in the mix), Tony Xia himself stated that Kodjia was heading elsewhere, until Villa stepped in.
Not only does Kodjia’s demand show that he possesses the necessary quality that many teams desire up front, but it gives us an insight on where Kodjia’s mind is at. Surely choosing Villa over other Championship clubs and even Premier League clubs shows that Kodjia is confident that the club is on the up and that he believes that he will fit best under Di Matteo’s tutelage?
One Season Wonder
However, Jonathan Kodjia may have been prolific for Bristol City last season, that was his only season in English football. Despite having decent campaign in France for Angers prior to last season, Kodjia managed just 17 goals in 86 appearances over six seasons, during which he spent a lot of time out on loan.
Another reason for concern is the growing number of players that Aston Villa have that are potentially going to be called up to play in AFCON tournament in January. With Ayew (Ghana), Gestede (Benin) and now Kodjia (Ivory Coast) having potential call ups, Aston Villa’s striking options could be very limited in January, a crucial stage in the Championship season.
Finally, the confirmation of the signing was met with adulation from Bristol City fans as they applauded the work of the club for pulling off the record-breaking fee for a player of Kodjia’s ‘quality’.
Constantly being accused of not knowing the offside rule, the Bristol City fans acknowledge the technique of the player but believe that for Kodjia does not have the footballing brain of a £15 million player.
Realistically, Kodjia is not a world class striker, he never has been and probably never will be. However, Kodjia combines the physicality of Gestede with more of the movement of Ayew to create a hybrid which has proven to be lethal in the Championship.
With the higher priorities on their striker list going missing, being able to beat other clubs to get Kodjia services is a statement of intent from the new board, if they hadn’t already shown they meant business.
With a willing character you won’t back against Kodjia more than paying them back, even if his fee seems a little extortionate at first glance.
Follow Richard Wakefield on Twitter at @_RichardAVFC