Jonathan Kodjia demonstrated at the end of last season that he can be a reliable game-changer when coming off the bench. Now, he’ll need to continue this, especially early on.
When Tammy Abraham was injured for the last few games of the regular Championship season, many fans were understandably worried about whether or not Jonathan Kodjia could step in and fill Tammy’s boots. He did an effective job and the team’s good form continued, as Kodjia’s goal against Millwall confirmed Villa’s play-off place in a 1-0 win. This season will more than likely see Kodjia play a back-up role again, as second fiddle to record signing Wesley (and possibly another after Deadline Day passes).
The £22 million fee paid for Wesley dictates that there will be extra pressure (external pressure at least) on him to score the goals that Villa will need to stay up. Some would argue that as long as he is contributing in other ways like creating for others, winning his duels, and giving his all then that’s all that matters. But if your starting striker isn’t scoring the goals – where do they come from? Villa’s midfield and defense will chip in their fare share, but Kodjia, especially early on, can help carry the load.
In the early weeks of the new season, as Wesley gets used to the speed and physicality of the English game, The Ivorian Kodjia, who played well in this summer’s AFCON tournament, registering 2 goals and an assist in 5 appearances for The Elephants, will more than likely get game time from the bench. He could possibly be rotated with Wesley for some games if the former Club Brugge strikers’s adjustment period takes longer than anticipated. Kodjia is already well-versed in playing for Dean Smith out wide or as a lone striker, which is where he’ll be needed if Wesley is ever absent .
The more the burden on Wesley to deliver straight away is eased, the more likely the Brazilian himself, and the football club as a whole, are to succeed in the Premier League this season. So, in a contract year at Villa, Kodjia knows he needs to deliver.