Tim Sherwood gives glowing review to Aston Villa's Leandro Bacuna

The 24-year-old Dutchman has gone from bit-part player to key contributor since Sherwood's arrival in February.

After rewarding utility man Leandro Bacuna with a new five-year deal last month, Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has given the versatile Dutchman’s performances during his reign a glowing review.

Speaking to AVTV ahead of Sunday’s trip to Midlands rivals Leicester City, Sherwood said: “When I talk to the fans from the outside, he's been the surprise package for them. He's slotted in at right-back as if he hasn't played anywhere else. He is versatile. He can play a little bit further forward too.

“He assisted more goal than any other player in the squad last season from when I arrived at the club. He’s got a great delivery from that right hand side.

“He's getting fitter also. We had a problem with him last season in that, come the 60th or 70th-minute, he was almost needing to come off. He's over that now.

“He's more durable and we're delighted he's signed a long-term contract.”

  Premier LeagueGoalsAssistsKey PassesPassing AccuracyTotal Crosses GAMECrossing AccuracyTotal Tackles GAMEInterceptions GAMEAppearancesMins Played
Leandro Bacuna Under Lambert 5 1 15 73% 2.55 23% 2.19 1.5 42 2,772
Leandro Bacuna Under Sherwood 0 5 12 78% 4.06 26% 1.44 1.31 16 1,141

Bacuna, 24, has made 68 total appearances for Villa since signing from FC Groningen in June 2013 for around £1.5 million, while featuring at either right-back or in midfield.

However, despite finishing his first season in England as the club’s second highest scorer with five Premier League goals, the former Eredivisie star found himself out of favour with then-manager Paul Lambert over the first half of last term, as he earned just three starts in 10 outings across all competitions.

The ex-Netherlands Under-21 international has since admitted that he was considering his future at Villa Park in January, before Sherwood’s arrival the following month completely turned around his fortunes.

Taking advantage of a suspension for fellow right-back Alan Hutton, the converted winger seized a spot in the line-up and went on to start 11 of the final 13 games of the season, while recording five assists in the process to help save the club from the drop.

Since penning a new deal until 2020, the defender-cum-midfielder has so far started all four league games this term, with his most recent outing coming on the flank in the 2-2 home draw with Sunderland, when Jack Grealish and Adama Traore were both out injured.

It still remains to be seen what his long-term position is in Sherwood’s side but, with his impressive versatility and ability to deliver a deadly cross from the right, he should certainly continue to prove a valuable member of the squad – even if he cannot keep hold of a regular starting spot.

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