While Aly Cissokho’s Aston Villa career looked to be potentially over following his season-long loan move to Porto in August, the club’s left-back crisis means it might not be long before we see him back in a claret and blue shirt.
Signed from Valencia in August 2014 for a reported £2 million fee, the French defender spent the first half of last term as former manager Paul Lambert’s first-choice left-back and produced some solid, if unspectacular, performances while Villa languished around the bottom of the Premier League table.
He was certainly not the reason for the club's struggles, but his fortunes still changed drastically from February when Tim Sherwood replaced the Scot at the helm, as he made only one more appearance over the rest of campaign after losing his place in the side to Kieran Richardson while sidelined with a groin strain.
With the highly-rated Jordan Amavi also arriving from Nice in July, the 28-year-old was pushed further down the pecking order, and so it came as little surprise when he was shipped out to Porto ahead of this season.
He has hardly set the world alight in Portugal since, having played only three games for the Primeira Liga outfit, but circumstances back at Villa Park mean a surprise return to the Midlands could now be on the cards.
A season-ending knee injury to Amavi has left the club decidedly short at left-back, and while Richardson is filling in at the position for the time being, the former Fulham man’s turgid performance in the weekend’s 4-0 loss at Everton highlighted the desperate need for a superior replacement.
New boss Remi Garde has openly admitted that he is exploring options ahead of the January transfer window, but rather than bring in a new signing, he could instead attempt to recall Cissokho from the Estadio do Drogao.
Garde previously worked with the ex-Liverpool loanee during his time at Lyon and revealed after Saturday’s thumping at Goodison Park that a mid-season return might be possible if Porto agree to cut his spell short.
“We will see. This is an option. It’s an opportunity,” the Frenchman told the Birmingham Mail. “I haven’t spoken to him yet but I know him because he played for me at Lyon.
“We will see what happens and whether there is another option or not.”
|Premier League||Assists||Key Passes||Passing Accuracy||Total Crosses MINS||Total Dribbles MINS||Total Tackles MINS||Tackle Accuracy||Duels Won MINS||Duel Success||Interceptions MINS||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Kieran Richardson||Since February||0||4||74%||41.9||104.75||36.43||74%||19.95||47%||59.86||11||838|
It would probably be an understatement to say that Cissokho was not the flashiest player during his first six months at Villa, but looking at the stats from his 24 league appearances last season before Sherwood’s arrival, there are grounds to suggest that he would be an upgrade over the struggling Richardson.
The loanee certainly seems to offer more in attack than his 31-year-old counterpart since he started seeing time at left-back, having recorded both more crosses and more dribbles per game, and his defensive numbers also stand up well in comparison.
Though he has not managed as many tackles, the ex-Lyon man has made them with better accuracy than Richardson, while he has also won more of his duels at a better rate than even Amavi.
Ultimately, neither veteran’s overall stats come close to matching those of their younger teammate, but if Garde finds himself struggling for options come the start of the transfer window, he could do a lot worse than look to his old associate.
Of course, Villa do have other candidates who could fill in at left-back if Richardson fails to improve over the coming weeks, with Joleon Lescott, Ciaran Clark, Charles N'Zogbia and summer signing Jose Angel Crespo all having experience at the position.
Whether any would be a better solution than Cissokho is debatable, however, and while 21-year-old Lewis Kinsella could push himself into the mix if he impresses in training, his lack of top-flight experience makes him a relative long shot.
The once highly-rated Joe Bennett is also due to return in January from his loan spell at Bournemouth, but the fact that he has still not made an appearance for the Cherries does not bode well for his Villa future.
Ultimately, Cissokho would likely not be winning Villa many points over the second half of the season if a recall is possible, but with Garde sure to struggle to attract established replacements for Amavi if the club's league position does not improve over the festive period, he is an option worth giving considerable thought.