After joining Villa as a winger, the Dutchman has seen most of his action at right-back since Sherwood's arrival at the club.
Leandro Bacuna looks set to continue as Aston Villa’s first-choice right-back moving forward, with manager Tim Sherwood telling AVTV that he sees the versatile Dutchman having a long-term future at the position.
Bacuna, 23, joined Villa from FC Groningen in June 2013 for around £3 million, having impressed on the wing for the Eredivisie outfit.
The former Netherlands Under-21 international would go on to score five goals in 38 games during his first season in the Midlands but, while he saw the bulk of his minutes in the midfield, the since-departed Paul Lambert also started experimenting with him at full-back.
However, despite earning positive reviews, he found himself out of favour over the first half of last term, earning just seven Premier League cameos for a total of 184 minutes, and later admitted that he was considering his future at the club at the time.
The subsequent arrival of Sherwood would see Villa’s No. 7 make the most of his second chance to impress, though, as he capitalised on Alan Hutton’s fitness woes to start 11 of the final 13 games of the campaign on the backline.
|2014-15 Premier League||Position||Team||Goals||Assists||Total Key Passes||Passing Accuracy||Total Crosses MINS||Crossing Accuracy||Total Tackles MINS||Total Clearances MINS||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Leandro Bacuna||DF||Aston Villa||0||5||17||79%||14.43||27%||39.24||54.5||19||981|
|Alan Hutton||DF||Aston Villa||1||0||23||77%||22.38||27%||49.33||23.7||30||2,417|
Nevertheless, despite recording five assists in the process, as well as making noticeable improvements in his defensive work, there have still remained questions over whether Sherwood believes Bacuna could be the club’s long-term answer at the position – not least after he spent all of pre-season on the wing.
The weekend’s Premier League opener at Bournemouth saw him earn the start at right-back over Hutton, however, and Sherwood has now suggested that the switch could well become a permanent one moving forward.
“He’s not really played right-back much until last season when I came in but I think he’s cut out for that position,” Sherwood told AVTV.
“I think he can play on the right side of midfield also but he’s learning [at right-back] as he goes and he’s willing to learn.
“He’s still a young man, developing in his game, and I’m sure he will improve there.”
Sherwood has brought in some additional right-back options this summer in Micah Richards and Jose Angel Crespo but, with the former settling into a centre-half role and the latter expected to be a backup, it does seem like Bacuna is just competing with Hutton for a place in the starting line-up at present.
While his defensive positioning still needs work, the attacking threat he provides from the position was a big factor in Villa’s Premier League survival last season and, if he can continue to showcase the improvement he has made over the past six months, then there is no reason to think he cannot make the move for good.