Aston Villa have continued to bolster their defensive options with the signing of Reims defender Björn Engels for an undisclosed fee believed to be around €8 million. Engels had only just joined the French club permanently last March but had a clause in is contract that meant he could leave the club if an Premier League club came in for him.
Villa head coach Dean Smith has said:
“Björn is a player that I’ve been watching for the past 18 months. We’re very happy to have secured his services and look forward to working with him.”
From the age of 12, Engels was on the books of Belgian side Club Brugge where he spent nine years at the club. He played various youth sides until 2013, when he finally made his debut for the first team. Whilst rising through the ranks at Brugge, he played for the Belgian youth set up, also. He played once for both the u17s and u18s and played a further five for the u19s.
His debut came in none other than the Europa League, against French side Gironins de Bordeaux, coming on at half time. Unfortunately for him, his career at senior level couldn’t have started much worse, with the defender scoring an own goal within 60 seconds of the restart. That was his only appearance that season but he still signed his first professional contract in the summer.
His Belgian Pro League debut went quite the opposite. This time, Engels scored at the right end and Brugge came out 2-1 winners against Oostende. He’d go on to make 22 further appearances in the league, earning him another new contract. He was nominated for Young Professional Footballer of the Year in 2014 but lost out to current Leicester star Youri Tielemans.
The good feeling wouldn’t last long though, with Engels finding himself in the physio room the majority of the time for the next three seasons. He played just 32 times in the league, failing to get a healthy run of games under his belt. In the March of 2016 he was called up to the Belgium senior side, but his injuries came back and failed to earn his first international cap.
He instead played for the u21’s the next season, turning out twice for the Belgian youth team. He then made his way to Greece with Olympiacos, but once again afield to get sufficient game time, featuring in 17 Greece Superleague games. He did however manage five appearances in the Champions League in his solitary season in Greece. Their group included Barcelona and Juventus, so he would have had to defend against the very best football has to offer.
After a year there, Engels went out on loan to Reims where he finally got decent game time, playing in 32 out of 38 Ligue 1 matches. During his strong performances throughout the campaign he joined permanently after the club triggered an option to buy clause. He’d spend less than two months as a Reims player, after Villa signed for Belgian on July 16th.
Fantasy Football Potential
As mentioned above, Engels will certainly have to fight for his place to get in the starting line up. Aston Villa have give strong contenders for the two centre back places, four of which joining this summer. It is hard to tell who will start on a regular basis but I believe Engels won’t quite make it, barring injuries.
Mings and James Chester will seemingly be the defensive pairing, which was so successful in Villa’s promotion campaign last season. It will be a fight between Engels, Konsa and Kortney Hause to be third in command. With the money Villa have spent in all these players, I’m surprised that they will all be warming the bench next season.
Engels has been priced at £4.5m, which is currently the same as every other Villa defender. The safe bet will most likely be Mings, who they’ve spent the most money on. Other FPL managers agree, with Mings being the most selected centre back. In contrast Engels is the least selected defender of the lot, so it’s best to stay clear of the Belgian defender until injuries occur.
Written by, Harry Clark (@HarryClark_)