Aston Villa: Complete absence of Jota is a curious subplot to season so far

Jota was the first signing that Aston Villa made as a promoted club back in June of last year, but he’s barely featured at all.

Signed from rivals Birmingham City in exchange for Gary Gardner plus around £2 million, the deal for Jota represented a safe and relatively risk-free start to the transfer window.

He was well-known to Dean Smith as the pair linked up at Brentford together and the winger enjoyed a productive spell under Smith’s management at the Championship club.

This previous connection, as well as the low fee and offloading of one of the unwanted players in Villa’s squad (Gardner had a raft of other midfielders ahead of him), made the deal an attractive one.

Jota has largely been a peripheral figure though, with his only real contribution being an assist against Everton and a cup goal against Brighton. He has only appeared in 8 Premier League games, spanning 313 minutes in total.

He hasn’t even made a matchday squad since the start of January, where he was an unused sub in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Leicester. His lack of action seems all the more strange considering the consistency issues that have plagued Villa’s other wingers, Anwar El Ghazi and Trezeguet, where they appear bright and effective one week and anonymous the next.

Jota has figured from a central attacking midfield position at times when he’s seen minutes this season so Dean Smith is aware that he’s a versatile player. Smith has chopped and changed formations this season as well as personnel in all areas of the pitch, but Jota has remained on the sidelines for the majority of the time.

Next: Man City doing their bit on the frontline

I’m sure the player himself is wondering where he stands in the eyes of Smith, as surely he will feel that he warrants a chance to see if he can change Villa’s fortunes if and when the season resumes after the enforced break.