Aston Villa new boy Aaron Tshibola has the stats to back up his promising reputation

Everton's Leon Osman and Reading's Aaron Tshibola jump for a header

The 21-year-old midfielder made an excellent impression at Reading during the early stages of last season before injuries struck.

Everton's Leon Osman and Reading's Aaron Tshibola jump for a header

Aston Villa officially announced their third signing of the summer on Sunday, snapping up 21-year-old midfielder Aaron Tshibola from Reading for a reported £5 million fee.

The highly-rated youngster, who has penned a four-year deal with the Championship new boys, may lack experience after making just six second-tier starts during his time at the Madejski Stadium, but there’s good reason for Villa supporters to be excited about his potential.

A physical specimen at nearly 6ft 3in, Tshibola joined Reading’s academy at the age of 13 and rose through the ranks to earn his professional debut for the club in a 4-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest in August 2014.

The former England Under-18 international failed to make another appearance for the Royals that season, but after spending the second half of the campaign on loan at League’s Two Hartlepool United, he returned to Berkshire ready to make his mark on the first-team.

Under the guidance of Villa’s new assistant manager Steve Clarke, the London native went on to feature 12 times in the Championship over the first few months of last term and certainly didn’t look out of place, producing some impressive statistics in the process.

Premier League/Championship 2015-16 TeamTotal Tackles MINSTackle AccuracyDuels Won MINSDuel SuccessInterceptionsInterceptions MINSPassing AccuracyBall Recoveries MINSAppearancesMins Played
Aaron Tshibola Reading 39.57 79% 11.31 62.82% 31 17.87 83% 9.39 12 554
Gary Gardner Forest 39.8 75% 13.27 57.97% 37 43.03 82% 13.72 20 1,592
Idrissa Gueye Aston Villa 21.35 75% 10.42 59.72% 141 21.81 86% 8.94 35 3,075
Jordan Veretout Aston Villa 57 72% 22.8 43.72% 27 67.56 83% 17.37 25 1,824
Carlos Sánchez Aston Villa 25.85 72% 13.43 55.74% 45 30.44 81% 11.61 20 1,370
Ashley Westwood Aston Villa 43.85 71% 31.25 41.63% 57 47.7 83% 13.14 32 2,719

As well as completing 83 percent of his passes winning 49 duels and recovering the ball 59 times, the all-action midfielder managed to make 31 interceptions in just 554 minutes of action – the highest rate per minute in the second tier among players who played more than 300 minutes over the entirety of the season.

2015-16 Championship PositionTeamInterceptionsInterceptions MINSAppearancesMins Played
Aaron Tshibola MF Reading 31 17.87 12 554
Prince DF Bolton 78 21.1 19 1,646
Robert Tesche MF Forest 72 21.18 24 1,525
Joe Walsh DF MK Dons 69 21.33 18 1,472
Jay Spearing MF Bolton 70 21.4 22 1,498

He didn’t get on the scoresheet or provide an assist during that time, despite posing a threat in the attacking third, but his displays certainly made an excellent impression on his manager.

“I think if you’re playing as well as Aaron is playing then you deserve your place in the team,” Clarke told Get Reading last September. “When you‘ve got a young boy who is improving and improving in the manner Aaron is, then it’s great to see for a coach.”

Reading manager Steve Clarke

Unfortunately, though, Tshibola subsequently suffered a major injury blow in October when he hurt his ankle in a 4-2 defeat at Fulham, ruling him out of action for three months.

He eventually made his comeback in late January, starting a 4-0 FA Cup victory over Walsall, but lasted just 10 minutes before having to going off with a hamstring problem that kept him sidelined for the remainder of the campaign.

Reading incidentally struggled badly in his absence after previously hovering around the play-off places, going on to finish the campaign in 17th under the since-departed Brian McDermott after Clarke was sacked in December just two weeks after turning down the Fulham job.

New boss Jaap Stam had made it clear last month that he was determined to keep the emerging midfielder at the club, but in the end Villa came up with offer that was too good to refuse.

“I said I wanted Tish to stay because he’s a very good player, I think everyone within the club wanted him to stay,” Stam told Get Reading this past weekend. “An offer came in for him and of course you have to think about what to do - but then you have the player as well.

“If the player wants to leave and had set his mind on leaving the club then what can you do and that point?”

New manager Roberto Di Matteo during the press conference

Now back fully fit and raring to go, it remains to be seen whether Tshibola will be in the starting XI when Roberto Di Matteo’s men begin the Championship campaign at Sheffield Wednesday on 7 August, but his price tag certainly suggests that the Italian sees him playing a vital role in their promotion push.

While Villa currently have a host of midfield options at their disposal, Idrissa Gana is widely expected to leave for Marseille in the near future [h/t Sky Sports], while recent reports have also claimed that Ashley Westwood and Jordan Veretout could both follow him out the exit door.

The Royals academy graduate still wouldn’t be guaranteed playing time in that scenario with Gary Gardner, Carlos Sanchez, fellow youngster Jordan Lyden and the returning Stiliyan Petrov also in the midfield mix, but there’s no question that his future at Villa Park looks bright.

Tottenham's Etienne Capoue is brought down by Reading's Aaron Tshibola (R) for a penalty

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