Another solid performance in Feyenoord's 1-1 Europa League draw at Roma on Thursday night reinforced the belief that Karim El Ahmadi could have had a role at Villa this season.
Karim El Ahmadi might not have made a huge impact during his time at Aston Villa, but the midfielder is proving back at Feyenoord that the since-departed Paul Lambert was perhaps a tad too hasty in shipping him out in the summer.
El Ahmadi, 30, arrived at Villa from the Dutch club in June 2012 for around £2 million, before going on to start the first nine Premier League games of the season, opening his claret and blue account in the 3-1 home defeat to Everton.
The Morocco international earned impressive reviews during his first few months of the campaign, but later saw a series of injuries limit his first-team involvement, as he finished his debut season with 20 total appearances under his belt.
His second term at Villa Park saw miss just five league matches but, despite proving a regular in Lambert’s line-up, the Scot never seemed quite convinced of his worth.
The August signing of Colombian World Cup star Carlos Sanchez pushing him down the pecking order, El Ahmadi was shipped back to De Kuip with 12 months left to run on his deal, with Lambert telling the Daily Mail before his £750,000 sale: “El Ahmadi looks like he's going to sign for Feyenoord. It's a chance for him to go back, he's in his last year.
“We'd obviously lose him in the African Nations Cup so it'd make sense going back home. If we can do one or two lads to come in, then I'd look to do it.”
Unfortunately, one of those “lads” who Lambert brought in happened to be loanee Tom Cleverley, while hosts Morocco were also expelled from the African Cup of Nations after demanding the tournament be postponed due to ebola fears.
In the meantime, El Ahmadi has been in solid form in both the Eredivise and the Europa League, establishing himself as a virtual ever-present across both competitions, while also grabbing four goals in the process.
In action in the first-leg of their last-32 tie at Roma last night, he proceeded to put in dominant midfield performance, showing good touch on the ball and getting forward to support the attack whenever possible.
|V Roma||Total Shots||Total Shots Ontarget||Total Key Passes||Total Passes||Passing Accuracy||Total Tackles||Tackles Won||Total Interceptions||Total Touches||Unsuccessful Touches||Dispossessed||Mins Played|
|Karim El Ahmadi||3||0||1||61||93.4%||4||3||2||76||1||4||90|
Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing but, with Villa in the relegation zone while the likes of Cleverley fail to perform up to expectations, one can’t help but now wonder whether Lambert might have been better off sticking with the veteran.
Poor decisions in the transfer market were no doubt a huge factor in the beleaguered manager's demise, with 2013 signings Yacouba Sylla, Nicklas Helenius, Antonio Luna and Aleksandar Tonev all shipped out on loan after just one full season in the West Midlands, and it looks like there’s an argument to make that El Ahmadi's sale can be added to the list of blunders, too.