Aston Villa have today signed Lille winger Anwar El Ghazi on loan for the 2018/19 season. Should El Ghazi impress, however, the temporary transfer could become permanent given the option to buy that Villa negotiated into their agreement with Les Dogues.
Lille have been El Ghazi’s parent club since January of 2017 when he joined from Ajax for €7m. The 23-year-old’s time in France has been mixed, with any difficulties stemming from an inability to hold down a spot in Lille’s starting eleven. Primarily a right winger, El Ghazi struggled to displace strong competition for his position in the form of Nicolas Pépé, who has burst onto the scene in Northwestern France.
Throughout his year and a half in the red and blue of Lille, El Ghazi appeared in 44 matches, scoring six goals and adding four assists. Despite never establishing himself as a consistent regular in the first team, El Ghazi’s qualities were still evident. Quick, skillful, and with an eye for goal, the Dutch winger is able to play on the right, left, or even through the middle, a position that he was often deployed in during his time in Amsterdam.
Much has been made of Lille’s recent financial struggles, and it seems like El Ghazi’s departure is the latest effort made to right the ship. Having El Ghazi’s wages off of Lille’s payroll could be good for both the club and the player, as the opportunity to start anew in England seems to be welcomed by El Ghazi.
In Aston Villa’s official club announcement, El Ghazi added a few words, declaring, “I am thrilled to join a football club of the size of Aston Villa. I visited Villa Park late last night after flying in from Holland and it gave me goosebumps. I can’t wait to get out there and experience it for real and play in front of such passionate fans.”