Villa best to take second punt on a Newcastle French winger

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Five goals in 51 appearances across the best part of three seasons is not the kind of return Aston Villa would have been expecting from their £9.5m investment in Charles N’Zogbia.

A ruptured Achilles heel has ruled the 27-year-old out for much of this season and his directness, dribbling speed and eye for goal have been severely missed by Paul Lambert.

Looking back at Villa’s most successful stint in recent seasons, they were at their best when they had the likes of Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and James Milner at their disposal.

This trio could all beat a man, cross fairly accurately and cut in from their respective flank to test opposing goalkeepers.

Villa haven’t replaced this type of player and current wide-men of choice Gabby Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann are more about hard work and graft than real quality.

Between the pair, they have registered just nine assists between them this season, with pass success rates below 80 per cent and crossing statistics of one every three games.

A lack of a true creator is arguably one reason Villa find themselves on the periphery of the relegation places and they can be backed at 9/1 to go down with three games remaining.

One such player that is almost certain to be available this summer, and possibly on a free transfer, is Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa, given his struggles for pitch time at St James’ Park.

Ben Arfa only has a year to run on his Newcastle contract and his agent Jean-Jacques Bertrand has told a French TV station that his player is considering buying himself out of the final year of this contract.

A return to France looks the most likely option for one of leading dribblers in the Premier League on a game-by-game average, but should he wish to stay in England, Villa could profit from his services more than most.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.