On what is a typically hectic final day of the transfer window, Aston Villa have confirmed the signing of striker Libor Kozak from Lazio on a four-year-deal.
The 24-year-old Czech Republic international hardly got a look in while in Serie A, making just five starts last season. However, he shone in the club’s Europa League campaign, top-scoring in the competition with 10 goals. Paul Lambert knows the player well, and expects him to prove a worthwhile addition to a frontline that still proudly boasts one Christian Benteke.
“We need somebody like him as we only have Christian Benteke, really, as a main target man,” he said. “He’ll take that burden off Christian and he’ll add greatly to what we’ve got, with the likes of Nicklas Helenius, who’s a different type of player, Gabby Agbonlahor, Aleks Tonev, and Andi Weimann in that area of the pitch where we can hurt teams.
“Libor’s powerful, too, and I’m looking forward to working with him,” Lambert continued. “We needed to bring in someone like Libor to help the overall philosophy to work.”
And Kozak does indeed have attributes suitable to Lambert’s direct, counter-attacking philosophy. Standing at 1.92 metres, he is a commanding presence, a perfect target for long balls.
This is made evident by the fact that he won just over half of the headed duels he engaged in. But having averaged just over one committed foul per game, evidently referees didn’t see all of his aerial battles as fair. He was fouled an average of just over once per game as well, showing that defenders have a hard time dealing with his huge presence. He can expect more of the same in England.
Having won a headed duel, Kozak then looks to provide flick-ons and knock-downs for surrounding team-mates. Notice, above, the fact that he attempted more headed passes than ground passes. He completed just 34% of these, which is understandable given how difficult it is to get direction and power into these passes, particularly when being challenged in the air. It’s important, then, for Lambert to encourage his players to run up in support of their new team-mate when they hit a ball long towards him.
In terms of goals, though lacking potency in Serie A, he proved that he is capable of finding the net in the Europa League. Lambert will be hoping that he transfers that form to the English Premier League, especially given that the burden fell heavily on Benteke last season.
It’s evident from the above visualisation that his placement of shots needs a bit of work, but there is definitely potential to at least reach double figures, once he gets reliable service.
Paul Lambert said that the club worked on this deal for months, proving that he certainly believes in Kozak. Lazio manager Vladimir Petkovic didn’t. Hopefully, the powerful striker can prove him wrong.
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Topics: Libor Kozak