Fearless Lewis Dobbin 'took the breath away' amid expert verdict on 'bargain' Aston Villa deal

Lewis Dobbin
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)


Lewis Dobbin wrapped up a move to Aston Villa last month as they raided Everton for a player who hit the headlines with his goal against Chelsea last season.

Dobbin made 16 appearances for the Toffees as they avoided relegation as he tried to nail down a regular place in their first team.

But one man who did have a good look at the 21-year-old was Derby County writer Leigh Curtis who watched him play more than 50 games for the Rams in the 2022/23 season as they just missed out on the playoffs in League One. Dobbin scored five goals during his time at Pride Park and here BirminghamLive picked the brains of the Rams writer to get the lowdown on Villa's summer signing.

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What are his strengths?

"He is blessed with incredible pace, he's got exceptional feet and he can go on the outside and the inside," said Curtis. "You can play him on either wing and during his time at Derby, he was deployed as a striker on a couple of occasions. He played in a 4-3-3, a 4-4-2 and a 4-2-3-1 during his time at Derby and there were moments of skill that took the breath away.

"He is very flexible and that loan he had at Derby did him the world of good. He didn't feature as a first-team regular for Everton when he went back but it was enough for them to feel that he could be part of their first-team squad and I was not surprised that they used him as option off the bench.

"But we have to remember he is still very much a baby in terms of his development. He is only 21, but he has all the attributes to become a top player. Speed kills and he has bundles of that and what I do love about him is that he is pretty fearless. If something doesn't quite come off for him, he wants the ball again quickly and that's a pretty admirable trait.

Any weaknesses?

"I think if you were to ask Derby about him, they would probably say the one thing that he can hone is his finishing," says Curtis.

"His pace and his ability means he will always get chances, but the hardest aspect of all is scoring goals and he should have had more of them at Derby. Paul Warne, who is Derby's head coach, touched upon the fact that he beats himself up when he misses opportunities.

"That is one aspect he can work on and I am sure he will thrive working alongside somebody like Ollie Watkins and just watching him in training. Unai Emery will be so good for him too and I've no doubt he can thrive at Villa and I think they could well have netted themselves a bargain."

What did the Derby manager think of him?

"Warne absolutely loved him," continues Curtis. "He could not have been more complimentary about his character plus the qualities he possesses in terms of his pace and his skillset. I remember one game against Port Vale when he was on the bench and he sent Dobbin on and he changed the game.

"He ended up creating the winner and there was delirium in the away end. I think if there had been an opportunity to take him back last season I think Warne would have definitely considered it because he loves pace and Dobbin has bundles of it."

What did Warne say?

After missing a chance against Morecambe in a 1-1 draw, Warne said: "He gets himself in good positions and the thing is with Lewis is that he beats himself up a little bit.

"All the best players miss. I remember Billy Sharp at Sheffield United. He misses no end in fairness but he doesn't care. He just keeps going. You're going to miss and there is no player in the world who scores with every chance they get. Don't worry about it.

"But he's getting himself into position. He's got himself into a really good position in terms of his match fitness which helps. I think he will have an amazing career and hopefully an amazing season with us.

"He was one of our bright sparks. But I do think he beats himself up. I know he does. When I went onto the pitch after the game I was saying to him 'look mate, I thought you were excellent, you've just got to keep going and going'."

Can he make the Villa grade?

"If I was a Villa fan I'd be excited about his potential," said Curtis. "He made his mark on the Premier League last season by scoring against Chelsea in a pretty poor team. I think he has the ability to go to the very top and looking at how studious Emery is with developing players tactically and performance-wise, I would not be surprised to see him involved at some point next season.

"He's a genuine livewire and I think Villa have made a very shrewd acquisition. I'll be watching his progress with interest that is for sure and if he lives up to his potential, he will be a bargain even at £10m."

What did you make of Dobbin's arrival? Have your say HERE.