Aston Villa have been praised for their surprise signing of Calum Chambers from Arsenal by a former player – who does not necessarily think the defender will be an instant starter.
Villa were one of the busiest clubs in the summer transfer window and they were active again in January. To strengthen Steven Gerrard’s squad, they completed deals for Philippe Coutinho, Lucas Digne, Robin Olsen and Calum Chambers.
The last of those deals was a surprise, since there were no rumours of it before it was announced. Chambers ended up signing a contract until 2025 at Villa Park. It brought an end to a long stint with Arsenal, where he was a backup player.
He has now been warned he faces a similar situation in terms of his standing in the pecking order at his new club. However, ex-Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor views his signing as a positive one.
“The good thing about Calum Chambers is he’s back up for right-back and back up for centre-back,” Agbonlahor told Football Insider.
“He’ll be fourth-choice centre-half behind Kortney Hause [plus Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa] but he’ll be second-choice right-back [behind Matty Cash].
“For Steven Gerrard it’s perfect. He’s not going to kick up a fuss if he’s not playing. He knows he’s not going to be starting if everyone’s fit.
“I think it makes sense for Aston Villa. When you need a fourth-choice centre-half and a second-choice right-back you can’t be spending a lot of money.
“It’s a very clever bit of business from Aston Villa. We needed a bit of cover in that area.”
Chambers effectively takes the role that Axel Tuanzebe was covering before the early termination of his loan from Man Utd in favour of a switch to Napoli.
The 27-year-old will add plenty of experience at Villa, having made more than 100 appearances for Arsenal (but only five this season).
Aston Villa man Coutinho has something to celebrate
Meanwhile, fellow January arrival Coutinho has seen a light at the end of the tunnel after a few years of struggles.
Coutinho’s career has not gone to plan since he left Liverpool for Barcelona in 2018. He struggled to justify his nine-figure price tag as he suffered a decline in form. But he will be hoping things pick up again now he has returned to the Premier League.
And at international level, Brazil called him up for the current break for the first time in more than a year.
He marked his return to the fold with a goal against Paraguay on Monday. Afterwards, he opened up on what it means to him to be back – and why it has been tough in recent years.
Coutinho said: “It’s always good to play with the support of the fans, like today. I missed that, it was very nice to play with our fans supporting. This is very important.
“I’ve been getting a lot of beating, and that doesn’t change my essence, nor does the praise change. I know who I am, where I can get to and today I leave here very happy.
“A long time off, I had a difficult, complicated injury. I was called up again, I came back again now, I played, I left at the beginning in the last game. The manager gave me another chance today, we won the game and I’m happy to score in this stadium and with all the Brazilian fans present.
“I had a very difficult time, I was away from the pitch for nine months, I underwent three surgeries. There are times when you see the difficulty passing, but I had all the support of my family at all times.
“The CBF and all the staff, Dr Rodrigo and Fábio also provided all the help for my recovery.
“Today’s game doesn’t change anything, just like before, it doesn’t either. I want to keep working to evolve. This is a daily dispute. At clubs we have to do our best to be able to come back.”