At 33 years of age, it’s fair to say that Mile Jedinak is in the twilight of his career. The Aussie’s importance in defensive midfield is often understated and Aston Villa would be wise to search for his successor.
It’s important for Aston Villa Football Club to be actively scouting and sourcing replacements for players. It’s the lifeblood for club livelihood and this extends to Villa’s defensive midfield anchor, Mile Jedinak.
The job he does for Villa in the middle of the park cannot be overstated, as it allows others around him to succeed. The claret and blue’s 5-0 thrashing of Bristol City is evidence to this as Conor Hourihane and Jack Grealish ran riot in advanced areas. Jedinak’s calmness in possession and dominance in the air brings distinct value on the pitch. In recent weeks we saw Jedinak’s main competitor, fellow 33-year old Glenn Whelan, create panic with truly horrid turnovers – costing the team valuable points in the process.
How long is his reign?
Tough to say. Jedinak’s Aston Villa contract runs out in the summer of 2019, where he will be completing his age-34 season. Villa likely wouldn’t extend a deal either unless the player shows both ability and willingness with a position change to central defense. In the Premier League, too, Jedinak might struggle with far more explosive attacking midfielders.
A successor should be found
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The summer is the more likely window for Villa to actually procure a protege of sorts. Spending power is restricted in January, but it doesn’t stop Villa from making contact with these targets via a shortlist, so when the summer does come around, Villa know their top targets.
It will be tough for any such replacement to replicate Jedinak’s performances over the last two campaigns. He picks up injuries too often which has forced Whelan for much of this season. Lately, however, he seems to be getting back to his best, after recently putting together his longest run of games injury-free, which has coincided with consecutive league victories.
Normally I’d try to find a replacement within the squad to save money but out of all of Villa’s midfielders nobody has the same positional nous, aerial ability and defensive shielding ability that Jedinak possesses. Hourihane, Lansbury and Onomah all love to be true box-to box number eights and go forward. Moreover, Glenn Whelan is terribly out-of-form at an advanced age.
Reports link Aston Villa with Daniel Amartey of Leicester on loan. At 23 years of age, over 6 feet tall, and a Ghanaian international, he ticks the boxes of a potential long-term target. It’s unlikely Villa procure such a target but a loan gives Steve Bruce an extended look at the player with far less risk.