If there’s one thing which has been made more than clear during Aston Villa’s recent poor run of form, it’s that manager Paul Lambert continues to lack a genuine creative outlet in midfield.
That problem could be about to be compounded, too, with the injured Fabian Delph looking set to leave the club, either in the winter or when his current contract expires at the end of the season, amid reported interest from the likes of Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
While both Ashley Westwood and on loan Manchester United man Tom Cleverley are decent options, neither has shown much going forward during their careers, with the description “solid but unspectacular” more than fitting.
The enigmatic Charles N’Zogbia hasn’t proven he can be the answer during his four seasons at the club either, while, despite Lambert touting him for big things, fans shouldn’t expect much from the brittle and ageing Joe Cole.
The answer to Villa’s creativity woes, though, could well be an emerging player who will be available on a free transfer in the coming window, and has been earning rave reviews on the international stage in recent months.
Mikkel “Mix” Diskerud, 24, is out-of-contract with Rosenborg in the New Year after the 2014 Tippeligaen season ended on November 9, and the USA midfielder is now considering his next move.
Born in Oslo to a Norwegian father and American mother, Diskerud represented the Scandinavian nation through to under-19 level, but then opted to switch allegiances to the US in 2009, after a drawn-out battle between the two sides over his services.
Going on to make his senior debut in November 2010, the 25-times capped international was an unused member of Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup squad this summer, but has since established himself as a regular in the line-up, starting all five friendlies in several different roles across the midfield, while also grabbing two goals.
His latest strike coming in the 4-1 defeat to the Republic of Ireland in Dublin this week, if Villa assistant Roy Keane was watching on the home side’s bench, in his capacity as Martin O’Neill’s number two, then he just might have travelled back to the West Midlands with a positive report for Lambert on the opposition’s long-haired standout.
While labelled a playmaker due to his excellent passing and vision, Diskerud’s versatility has seen him feature as a holding midfielder for Klinsmann at times in the past, with his tireless running and underrated bite ensuring he has not felt out of place in that role either, in a similar vein to England’s Jack Wilshere.
Also possessing a lethal shot, the US’s number 10 was linked to the likes of Celtic and Werder Bremen earlier this summer, and also came close to joining the Columbus Crew of MLS, before a deal collapsed during the final stages of the league’s transfer deadline.
While the youngster still hasn’t ruled out a stateside switch, with expansion side New York City FC reported to be sniffing around, Klinsmann’s noted preference for having his star men in Europe will no doubt factor into his next move.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen, but I certainly feel like I have options,” Diskerud told reporters this week. “I'd like to play [in MLS] some time, some day, but I have no idea when that’s going to be now.
“There’re a lot of options, and I don’t really know what’s going to happen. I’m going to keep all options open and then we’ll see what happens, but I like Europe.”
Ultimately, if Villa want a perfect replacement for Delph, who can offer everything the England international can but with more attacking flair, then Diskerud should be one of the top names on their list of winter window targets, with compatriot Brad Guzan capable of selling Birmingham to him in the meantime.
Furthermore, with the club’s budget still somewhat tight, the fact he would arrive on a free transfer comes as a huge bonus.
Make no mistake, Mix is ready for the Premier League, and a team like Villa would provide the perfect opportunity for him to thrive as the midfield force that’s been missing from the side for so long.