This defender has made a sensational impact at the back for Villa.
Since his arrival one year ago, Aston Villa have been revolutionised by Unai Emery, who has orchestrated their much-improved performances and propelled the club to a newfound level of success.
During his time at Villa Park, the Spaniard has transformed Ollie Watkins into a star striker, taking them from the threat of relegation to now firmly challenging for Europe.
It is quite a remarkable turnaround in one year and although Emery can take huge credit for that, especially with their meticulous recruitment in the transfer market, the bedrock of their success was laid down before his entrance.
With the breadth of quality being captured in the transfer market, it was only going to take a world-class manager to realise the potential of their talents, as the likes of Emiliano Martinez, Lucas Digne, Matty Cash, John McGinn and Watkins are all thriving in claret and blue.
One player who has joined that list is Ezri Konsa, the centre-back who was captured by Dean Smith following their promotion to the Premier League in 2019 and is now on the verge of a deserved England call-up.
How much did Aston Villa pay for Ezri Konsa?
Thomas Frank arrived at Brentford with the mission of playing an easy-on-the-eye style that required his defenders to be exceptional with the ball at their feet, and Konsa ticked that box.
The ball-playing centre-back, who was captured by the Bees from Charlton as a 20-year-old in 2018, quickly established himself as the next second-tier prodigy waiting to be snapped up by the prying hands of Premier League clubs.
During his first Championship campaign, Konsa featured in all but four matches and his sensational performances – the like that saw Arsenal and Crystal Palace register an interest in January 2019 – saw his manager salivate over his talents and the ceiling of his potential.
Frank said: “I think Ezri Konsa is a very good, talented player. I think he’ll become very good. I understand that there’s interest in him but I think he’ll learn a lot from one more year in the Championship because there’s a lot of things to develop.”
Despite urging the youngster to stay put for one more year, Aston Villa’s promotion to the Premier League in 2019 presented them with the financial muscle to prise talent to Villa Park, capturing Konsa for a fee of £12m.
How much is Ezri Konsa worth now?
At the time of writing, FootballTranfers rates his expected transfer value (xTV) at €32.8m (£29m), meaning that his value has soared by a whopping 141% from the initial fee that the Villans paid for his services four years ago.
This shows that Smith struck gold with the signing of Konsa – who he previously labelled as a “Rolls-Royce” – with his value skyrocketing over the past four years, maturing into a quality defender whose performances have passed the eye test while his elegance in possession and durability without it have emphasised why comparisons were drawn to a Rolls-Royce.
According to FBref, when comparing him to his positional peers across Europe’s top five leagues in the past year, he ranks in the top 11% for pass completion (90%) and top 14% for the percentage of dribblers tackled (70.4%), so not only is he a destroyer of attackers but also a reliable distributor of the ball.
Konsa’s domineering displays at the heart of Villa’s defence have left Smith baffled as to why he hasn’t been called up to the national team squad by Gareth Southgate, having recorded a better pass completion (92%) than any other England centre-back, recovered 3.4 balls per game, made 1.8 tackles and won 78% of his duels, as per Sofa score.
The 25-year-old colossus – who was dubbed by teammate Matty Cash as an “incredible player” – has certainly performed to that standard with relentless consistency.
He has featured in every Premier League minute so far under Emery and although his focus remains on helping Villa challenge for silverware, it seems only a matter of time before Southgate realises that Konsa’s incremental qualities fit into the Three Lions all-encompassing style.