Tiago Ilori Arrival Adds Extra Intrigue to Aston Villa’s Defensive Puzzle

Tiago Ilori move to Aston Villa was an unexpected one considering the squad’s current abundance of centre-backs, but the loan gives the 22-year-old a chance to stake a claim to be the future of Villa’s defence.

Since joining Liverpool in 2013, Ilori has yet to make an appearance for them. The £1m loan fee paid by Villa is back-ended by the option to buy the Portuguese U-21 international, who was actually born in London.

It was an unexpected move by Sherwood on deadline day, but the player must have done enough on loan spells at Granada and Bordeaux to convince Villa he was worth taking on. Liverpool certainly didn’t seem to be too bothered about giving him a chance.

The most puzzling thing about Villa bringing Ilori in is the fact that Nathan Baker was shipped out on loan to Bristol City (after recently signing a new contract). It was thought that his loan was to make way for Joleon Lecott, who also completed his move on deadline day, but it seems since they are a similar age Ilori must be favoured above Baker.

Maybe it was simply a case of opportunity knocking and Ilori simply being available, with a loan period giving the club time to do some future planning and assess him as a successor to Lescott, who is expected to have two seasons tops at Villa.

Ilori cost Liverpool £7m from Sporting Lisbon, which at that price suggests he has the caliber to be competing to start, but can he really break through the centre-back ranks of Lescott, Micah Richards, Jores Okore and Ciaran Clark? (We’ll take it for granted that Philippe Senderos won’t have a part to play for Villa this season).

‘Versatile defender’ was also the description afforded to new signing José Ángel Crespo. So Crespo’s Villa career seems to be something of a limited one, as Ilori will almost certainly be above him in the pecking order.

Maybe Ilori has potential at right-back, a position that Villa still haven’t found an absolute solution for. Richards would also move across, though he seems to have primed his move to Villa on the fact he would be the first choice centre-back.

It’s going to be an interesting season full-stop in terms of how Villa’s ranks of new signings integrate and perform, but the defensive situation is certainly starting to take on a fascination all of its own.


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  1. Illori is excellent business..i watched him severally while he was at Bordeaux last season,he was imperious..alos the under 21’s tournament in the summer he did a great job..Good luc kto the young lad

  2. Our best player is a left back, can’t see why we need another, especially seeing as we have to keep Richardson for the season, fine cover in Kieran.

    Right back and a striker is all we are short now, we will get mid-table this year easily with this squad though.

    Ilori is a bizarre one, maybe we could see the 3-5-2 return to Villa Park

  3. I wonder whether he is a possible RB? It doesnt make sense otherwise, then again a lot of things TS does are confusing! Not that Im complaining mind.

    I think our only potentital weak positions are RB (although Hutton was excellent last season) and main striker. I dont think defensive mid is an issue as Sanchez has been on fire this season.

    Really interesting to see what the team is at Leicester.

  4. Good signing. I always thought he was a left footer but if he can play across the whole back line he will provide valuable cover and will slot in for the cup games rather than Sanchez filling in there where he isn’t really comfortable. Him and Clark at centre half for cup games (Blues excluded as this should nothing less than the 1st 11)

  5. full back and centre midfield should be added to the mix. Bacuna is not a right back but is attacking midfield, we have weakness in defensive midfield, and Hutton is ageing. So what right sided players have we signed? Only Micah Richards whould play right back. But left back? Reserve for Amavi now Bennett is loaned? what left sided defenders do we have?

    Trevor Fisher

    • I think it depends how you look at it, amavi is the our only genuine left back in the squad now, but richardson can deputise if needed although he isn’t great, hutton and richards are the only genuine right backs and richards is almost certain to be used at centre half only, but bacuna can be used there, again he isnt great though. crespo and ilori have been added and apparently they can both play anywhere accross the backline so that’s even more cover. the quantity is there, just whether the quality is remains to be seen. I for one would like to see Okore given a go in the right back position, i’m pretty sure he was exclusively a full back before he joined us.. i seem to remember him doing a job against chelsea in a champions league match though i’m not sure which side he played on. he is certainly athletic enough and is comfortable on the ball. he is probably 4th choice centre half as things stand and might find appearances in that position limited so why not? He wouldnt do a worse job than either hutton or bacuna. Just a thought.

  6. Thank you Mr Lerner. Ilori is smart business, he provides cover all along the back and is highly thought of by some ‘pool fans. Bacuna has been pushed up, so another RB and defo LB is needed. Crespo is worth the 500k we paid for him, and the kids are close, but not there yet. Baker can get game time too, TS said he thought he would be a “late developer”, and I still shudder a bit every time I see Cahill play. Only real downside I see is the to buy clause, the upper end is pricey and i read it has a sell on.

    So nice to have strength (ish) in depth.

  7. whilest from their comments many fans would disagree Baker is technically our best Graduate at CB . But he’s also very injury prone and needs a lengthy stretch of games to prove himself . Doing that in the Prem is not possible , but it would seem that Villa are not yet ready to give up on him . As the topic says Richards & Lescott only have a limited number of years left in them , so it makes sense to have replacements ready in the squad for when that happens and gone are the days when a team just had 2 CB’s plus a reserve

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