First Look: Jordan Amavi

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Name: Jordan Amavi

Age: 21

Date of Birth: 09/03/1994

Nationality: French

Club: Aston Villa

Position: Left back

Height: 5ft 9in (176cm)

Weight 11st 3lbs (70kg)

Preferred Foot: Left

After an excellent season with Nice, Jordan Amavi is set to play his football in the claret and blue of Aston Villa in August after they agreed a £9m fee with the French club. The 21 year-old is considered one of the brightest young talents in his home country and will bring a youthful athleticism to the Villa defence in place of the ageing Kieran Richardson and the inconsistent Aly Cissokho. Tim Sherwood was keen to express his delight with the deal, saying “Jordan has been one of the outstanding players in Ligue 1 and is still very young with potential to become even better. There were a lot of clubs after him this summer so we are really pleased to welcome him to the club.”

Amavi was born in Toulon, France on March 9, 1994 and decided to represent Les Bleus despite his part Togolese heritage through the birthplace of his father. As a seven year old, Amavi signed for his local club Sporting Toulon Var, who currently play in France’s sixth division, in 2001. He would remain there for a further nine years, moving to OGC Nice at the age of 16 on a free transfer in 2010. He spent his next two years developing in the Nice youth academy, before progressing to Nice II in 2012, the club’s second team. He made 20 appearances for Nice II during the 2012/13 season, impressing observers and earning a call up to the senior side.

Amavi made his Ligue 1 debut on August 10, 2013 in a 4-0 loss against Lyon, where he was replaced with 20 minutes go by Kevin Gomis, his main competition for the left back spot. He went on to make a respectable 23 appearances in the 2013/14 season, but understandably struggled for consistency at just 19 years of age. Amavi’s development was aided by his involvement in his side’s Europa League campaign, which would only aid the young full back in his progression as a footballer. Nevertheless, Nice would finish in a disappointing 17th place, avoiding relegation by just two points.

The 2014/15 season would be a much improved one for both Amavi and Nice. He was a constant in the Les Aiglons’ back four, completing 3,233 out of 3,240 minutes of the club’s Ligue 1 campaign. He scored four goals and made one assist, numbers which could have been higher had it not been for his side’s inconsistent form in front of goal. With 32 chances created over the campaign, he generated almost one goalscoring opportunity every game. Amavi was also named Man of the Match in eight of Nice’s 36 matches last season, which works out at one award every 4.5 games. Nice did not make many waves in any domestic competitions, but finished in a respectable 11th place. Amavi’s consistency gained him plenty of admirers and he was named as the starting left back in the Ligue 1 Under-22 Team of the Year.

One of Amavi’s greatest strengths is his ability to carry the ball, and quickly. Averaging 5 dribbles per 90 minutes, Amavi is very comfortable in possession, and his first thought when receiving a pass is to drive towards the opposition goal. The 21 year-old also boasts a 58% successful take on percentage, this being the highest percentage of any left back in Ligue 1 with Monaco’s Layvin Kurzawa behind him on 54%. An example of his willingness to tear down the left hand side can be seen against Reims, on April 12, 2015 where he was on the halfway line and surrounded by defenders. After nutmegging one, he sped past another before fighting off a third man and whipping in a dangerous cross that was clumsily cleared out for a corner. With a very accomplished technical skills set (possibly due to his stints at left midfield as a youngster), he combines his pace with sharp movements infield to create a real sense of unpredictability in his game.  He can be slightly erratic and overconfident at times which can lead to him losing the ball, but he found himself being one of Nice’s most dangerous players last season, especially on the counter attack.

Another positive aspect to Amavi’s game is his dogged and tenacious style of defending. The Frenchman’s statistics justify his plaudits, averaging 3.09 tackles, 4.59 interceptions and 4.76 clearances per 90 minutes throughout 2014/15 which put him comfortably ahead of any other Nice defender. The new breed of full-back must be able to defend and attack in equal measure and Amavi certainly has the potential to do that. He is also a very intelligent defender, using his positional awareness to cover the dangerous spaces in behind his centre backs on a regular basis. On December 6, 2014, Nice were caught on the counter after losing the ball in midfield against Caen, but Amavi stayed glued to his forward runner before belting the ball out for a throw in, just as he was bearing down on the goalkeeper. This would have been a certain goal had it not been for his intervention.

Despite being only 176cm (5’9”), Amavi excels in the air winning an impressive 61% of his aerial duels, only losing out to PSG’s Lucas Digne who played 15 games fewer, but won 66% of his. As well as being effective in the air defensively, he has shown that he can be a threat going forward – scoring two of his four goals this against Nantes and Bordeaux season from headers. Even when he has found himself isolated against the likes of Edinson Cavani and Andre Pierre-Gignac who are considerably taller than him, the full back showed no sign of fragility when it came to these battles. An example of his aerial ability can be seen against Saint Etienne on May 10, 2015 where he was left two versus one after a goal kick from Stephane Ruffier. After taking two steps, he leapt significantly higher than both Benjamin Corgnet (180cm) and Romain Hamouma (177cm) before cushioning a really smart header to his teammate Didier Digard, despite being sandwiched in between the two green shirted attackers.

Amavi is very much in the mould of the modern full-back, exciting and adventurous in getting forward but also having the capability to carry out his defensive duties well whenever needed. He has also shown a capacity to learn from his mistakes at Nice, which lead to him receiving regular praise from his ex-manager Claude Puel. Having improved significantly under the radar, the Frenchman began to turn heads in France towards the end of last season, and this could prove to be a shrewd purchase by Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa. Still only 21, if he can keep himself fit, as well as in the Aston Villa starting eleven, he has the chance to catch up with the likes of Lucas Digne and Layvin Kurzawa, tipped as the two next big things in France. Not only could he become a success in the Premier League, but a dark horse for the Les Blues left back position with the European Championships right around the corner.

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Are you a fan of Amavi? Will £9m prove to be a bargain, or is it a gamble for Aston Villa? Write to us:[email protected]

First Look: Jordan Amavi
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