Aston Villa loanee unlikely to play again this season

Leander Dendoncker
Leander Dendoncker / Ivan Romano/GettyImages

Aston Villa's Leander Dendoncker finds himself caught in a footballing limbo. The Belgian midfielder, currently on loan at Serie A side Napoli, is unlikely to play another minute for the Italian club this season – unless disaster strikes and they become absolutely desperate.

Dendoncker's move to Naples in January 2024 promised a fresh start. His Aston Villa career was stalling, and the loan deal, with a £7.7 million (€9 million) option to buy, felt like a lifeline. However, the 28-year-old has played just a paltry 21 minutes since arriving in Italy.

According to Tutto Napoli, the root of his troubles lies in a change at the top. Napoli's sacking of Walter Mazzarri led to the appointment of caretaker manager Francesco Calzona.

Calzona has bluntly stated that Dendoncker "will never play" for Napoli again, blaming a lack of match fitness. It seems the writing is already on the wall.

Dendoncker's struggles in Italy are the latest chapter in a difficult period. Even before the loan move, he was out of favour at Aston Villa under Unai Emery, starting once in the Premier League this season. Emery's willingness to let him go in January spoke volumes.

A £13 million transfer from Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2022 began Dendoncker's Villa stint, but he never truly found his footing at the club. Now, with his Napoli nightmare almost complete and his Villa contract lasting until 2026, the midfielder's future is shrouded in uncertainty.

It's a harsh reality in the world of football – one poor transfer, one managerial change, and a player's fortunes can flip faster than a coin toss. Dendoncker had been recovering from an injury earlier in the 2023-24 season but returned fit and ready for a fresh start. Sadly, it seems that start won't happen in Naples.

The summer will be a crucial time for Dendoncker. Will Aston Villa find a place for him, or will he be seeking another fresh start elsewhere? Only time will tell, but for now, the Belgian midfielder's career hangs in a precarious balance.